Coming from the IT industry, Niko self-coded an e-commerce platform to start a business in 2008. At the time, she had no income and worked from her brother’s office, paying him the rent in now his company’s website.
With no defined brand orientation, the team ventured into the business with capital of RM10K and began selling several product categories such as toys, books, skin care, womens and menswear. . It was during these trials that the store began to introduce oversized t-shirts.
In 2012, the plus size clothing category was generating significant revenue for the company, helping it cross its first 100,000 RM in sales.
The constant feedback from returning plus size customers gave them enough confidence to consider their own brand of plus size clothing, one that included the right fit and fit for these women.
The decision to pivot was therefore logical and the team began to focus solely on the plus size segment with the launch of Mis Claire.
Find the right fit
Mis Claire is named after one of the brand’s founding members, Clara, who is herself a size UK18 (equivalent to a size XXL). She personally struggled in finding clothes that fit her, and this became a fundamental requirement in product design for Mis Claire.
The brand’s products, including blouses, jeans, cardigans, hoodies, evening wear, and more, all come in loose fits ranging from XL to 7XL. All garments are carefully designed, readjusted and measured with the right fit and silhouette for plus size figures, specializing in plus size Asian body types and size.
Such care is aimed at reducing wardrobe malfunctions that plus size women tend to experience with clothes that are not specially designed for them. Some common problems include tearing (when the sizes are too small and the wrong materials are used) and chafing (friction between the thighs which can cause the tissue to tear or peel).
To solve this problem, Mis Claire’s fits are wider for areas such as arms, thighs and hips, compared to other non-plus size brands, compared to the same size UK18.
These considerations also take into account the extra space required for the hips and thighs when its wearer is seated, in a way that always looks flattering when standing.
Learn by failing
All Mis Claire’s products are designed in-house by their team in Malaysia, while manufacturing is done both locally and in China. Over the years, the team has learned valuable lessons from this process.
For example, some fits or fabrics just won’t work for taller bodies, such as non-stretch denim materials.
âWhen we experiment with new materials, we make mistakes,â they admitted. They attributed an example from the old Eid collections of Mis Claire. While they were delighted to find a Songket material deemed suitable for plus size fits, they did not pay attention to the durability of the fabric.
The nature of Songket The weaving process can cause the fabric to tear easily when stretched too much. Not wanting to further damage their customers’ experience, the decision was made to discontinue the collection.
Mis Claire also reimbursed customers affected by the purchase.
âThere are of course monetary losses, but we can’t afford to let a customer have this bad experience just because we haven’t done our research well,â they said. âWe wouldn’t lie that we have completely solved all plus size problems, but this is our basic basic requirement for the design of our products. “
A growing market
When Mis Claire started ten years ago, the intention was to create fashionable, wearable and affordable plus size clothing. Based on my own shopping experiences, I find that Mis Claire’s products are fairly priced in the range of RM45 to RM88 for tops and RM39 to RM99 for pants, depending on design and fit. .
A lot of effort has gone into product presentation and social media, featuring plus size women of different shapes who are beautiful and confident with the outfits.
As the team said there were no professional plus size models available in Malaysia at the time, Mis Claire even trained her own staff to model the clothes. The team also sought out clients and local plus size women to be role models as well.
Since then, there has been an increase in body positivity movements and the adoption of different body sizes. Gone are the days when it was normal to expect women to look like Barbies, and brands are taking notice and becoming more inclusive.
The Mis Claire team agreed, stating that it was rare to see clothing sizes larger than 2XL on the market in 2012. âIf they had sizes larger, however, [they] would be too expensive, dated or both, âNiko said.
She is happy to now see the rise of large movements around the world, especially in Malaysia. More and more fashion brands have become more inclusive, and bigger bodies are becoming more and more standardized.
That said, Mis Claire also encourages healthier lifestyles through her activewear and plus size sportswear.
Take an omnichannel approach
Mis Claire currently has an outlet which opened in 2019 after seeing a high demand from customers who want to try on clothes before buying. Personally, I can agree that this is a very important step when shopping for clothes.
But concern is likely heightened for plus-size women who may have had a lot of difficulty with sizing while shopping online in the past.
The team is now preparing to open a flagship store in the IOI City Mall by mid-2022. It is intended to reach more plus size women and offer them the luxury of walking through a store dedicated to them, without having to worry about not being able to find their size.
However, the rapid expansion of offline stores will not be the goal of the Mis Claire team as they believe their website and Shopee store are still the best channels to serve customers nationwide.
You could say that their methods are working for them. Niko indicated that on average, Mis Claire processes around 15,000 garments per month.
âWe are fortunate to have loyal customers who are satisfied with our fits and have provided us with many referrals by referring their plus size friends and relatives to our online store,â Niko explained.
As to whether Mis Claire will expand to different customer segments, the team revealed that was not their focus at the moment, having previously tried with a sub-brand that hadn’t worked.
However, they do not overlook any opportunity to diversify in the future.
In addition to continuing to develop products that are relevant to their customers, they hope to strengthen Mis Claire’s retail business at a steady pace and strive to become a household name. Part of the plan is to provide a seamless shopping experience for their customers, both online and offline.
- Learn more about Mis Claire here.
- Learn more about Malaysian fashion startups here.
Featured Image Credit: The Mis Claire Team