Yet fabrication remains a hurdle for some. As a result, founders like Ms. Boujarwah of Dia, which counts Sequoia Capital among its investors, are designing their own products. Similarly, Ms. Hunsicker said Gwynnie Bee had, “for a number of vendors, taken on a lot of pattern design,” in addition to offering the site’s private label clothing.
“It’s their aesthetic and vision, and we’re helping to make it fit,” she said.
Many, but not all, of the sites primarily feature moderately priced clothes; as a result, those seeking designer apparel in larger sizes remained underserved. Enter 11 Honoré, which opened in August, shortly before New York Fashion Week last fall. The site was created by Patrick Herning and Kathryn Retzer, whose mothers wear larger sizes and often had difficulty finding higher-end clothing.
“We were adamant about building a luxury brand and bringing the best designers we could, including Michael Kors, Zac Posen, Badgley Mischka, Monique Lhuillier and Prabal Gurung,” Ms. Retzer said.
As they began formulating their idea, friends encouraged him to reach out to Kirsten Green, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist known for her retail investing acumen. They pitched their idea and obtained seed financing from Ms. Green’s firm, Forerunner Ventures, as well as from several others, for a total of $3.5 million.
Most of the companies do not yet offer intimate apparel, although Eloquii plans to offer lingerie in the future. To reach that market, Deborah A. Christel, a co-author of the study on women’s sizes, left her position as an assistant professor at Washington State University to start a company that would encompass all sizes for lingerie.
Ms. Christel said her company, Kade & Vos, would begin selling next summer. “It’s my hope that one day, women’s clothes will just be women’s without referring to plus size,” she said.