The Pitch: Grand Plans for Petite Market
Allison Izu Song
Allison Izu designs petite clothing for women 5 feet 4 inches and under. The first line of denim jeans, released in Hawaii in August 2008, is available in five different styles and can be purchased at local boutique clothing stores and at allisonizu.com.
Designer clothes are made for 5-feet 10-inch models, but when they’re hemmed for shorter people the proportions don’t work. I’m 5 feet 2 inches and couldn’t find clothes that fit properly, and I met other women with the same problem. I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City in 1998 and used that knowledge to create clothes for petite women.
For the first year, I’ll do mostly trunk shows at events and educate consumers on a personal level. People think petite is just skinny size 0, but there are different body types under 5 feet 4 inches and my line ranges from size 00 to size 10.
Initially, the clothing was manufactured in China, but I had issues with quality, so I switched to a company in Los Angeles. It costs almost twice as much, but it has its advantages. It’s easier for me to visit and oversee things. Also, fashion consumers are more conscious of the source of their products and are willing to invest in quality products that will last.
Large clothing companies like GAP, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor have petite clothing lines, but they are not their main business. I’ve noticed Nordstrom and Macy’s have expanded their petite sections. My competitive advantage is that I am specifically targeting the petite market and I’ve focused my efforts on creating patterns, silhouettes and cuts with a petite person in mind.
The company will expand to Los Angeles in spring 2009. I’d like to go international and my initial reaction would be Japan. However, I’ve gotten requests from Canada and the exchange rate makes it an easier entry into the international market. In fall 2009, I’ll expand the Allisonizu line using different fabrics.
Joann Seery, President, Board of Directors, Hawaii Women’s Business Center
Allison Izu has a well-defined target market and has done a great job on defining the needs of her customers in filling a specific niche. She is a living example of someone who has had a difficult time finding clothes that fit properly. She also has a fashion degree and the background to make this business successful. Going forward, the owner will need to aggressively manage the growth by developing key contacts on the Mainland as well as managing inventory and costs.
Jim Meier, Vice president of business development, Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii
The key to any successful product lies in identifying a meaningful consumer need and then developing a product that meets that need. You’ve clearly done that with Allisonizu Designs. Your immediate challenge is to develop a marketing plan that insures you effectively reach your target market. You’ve segmented by women 5 feet 4 and under. Given your focus on quality you may be able to further segment based on income/demographics that gets you to the consumer willing to pay for a higher priced designer product.
Erica Okada, Associate professor, University of Hawaii Shidler College of Business
Good idea, but your positioning is limiting. The average height for women is 5 feet 4 inches tall, so your line of clothing isn’t just for “short” people. It’s for most women, as far as more women are closer to 5 feet 4 inches than 5 feet 10 inches. In fact, most men are not 5 feet 10 inches, as the average height for men is 5 feet 9 inches.