The Cut profiles Marita Aikonen, design director at the subscription service Dia & Co, a fast-growing subscription service catering to women who wear size 14 and up. In her nearly two years at the company, Aikonen has launched eight new labels from the ground up -- NO small feat. Most recently, the Finland-born creative worked with EleVen by Venus Williams to translate her designs into Dia & Co's size range.
Startups aren't new to Aikonen. At Levi's, she started the women's Dockers plus-size division. After that stint, she moved to Old Navy to oversee both their plus and maternity design offerings. “We built out the plus-size business in active and swim as well as sweaters. These were categories where there had previously been a misconception that they wouldn’t be successful in plus sizes, and we were able to disprove that myth,” explained Aikonen.
Launching her own line and working as a consultant, Aikonen applied for a job at Dia & Co as a stylist. She was initially rejected as being overqualified, until her résumé landed on the desk of co-founder and CEO Nadia Boujarwah. The Cut conducts an interview with Aikonen.
Kuwati native Boujarwah was working as an investment banking analyst when she grew frustrated with fashion options for her size 15 body. The New York Times interviewed Boujarwah in July 2017, reporting that Dia&Co then had about 300 employees and one million customers. She co-founded the company with Lydia Gilbert.
Similar to style service companies like Stitch Fix or Trunk Club, a customer fills out a profile, and then a stylist curates items that are shipped to her. Dia charges a $20 styling fee, and the customer pays for the clothes she wants to keep.
Nearly 70 percent of American women are size 14 or larger, according to market research firm Plunkett Research. And yet, only 18 percent of the clothing sold in 2016 was considered plus-size, market research firm NPD found in a recent study..
Since the retail industry isn't catering to this majority, Boujarwah told CNBC, the average plus-sized woman "is only spending 20 cents on the dollar that women in smaller sizes are spending on apparel."