CEO Young-jin Lee
BIGNBIG is a company specialized in female plus-size fashion, established in February 2004. In the same year, it launched a new brand BIGNBIG in September and, as of November 2015, it is running 72 shops in Korea. The launching of BIGNBIG has moved the domestic plus-size market to the next stage.
Would you please introduce your company?
BIGNBIG is a company specialized in female plus-size fashion, established in February 2004. In the same year, we launched our brand BIGNBIG in September and, as of November 2015, we’re running 72 shops in Korea.
Previously, the plus-size market was driven by small online shopping malls, lacking specialization and variety. In particular, those in the market failed to accurately understand plus-size body type, only offering large-size copies of regular products, which was the main cause of low customer satisfaction. In this regard, BIGNBIG has moved the market to the next stage. Based on actual experiences with customers for many years, diligent collection of feedback, and effective analysis, we have studied and upgraded design and clothes patterns that can be comfortable for plus-size customers and can make them look slim. Most plus size-products in the market are mere copies of regular products, not specifically designed for plus-size customers. Just making bigger size clothing is not sufficient for this market.
Without actual sales experiences, effective analysis, communications with customers, and intensive investment, you can’t make right products for the plus-size fashion market. And this is the fundamental difference between BIGNBIG and other manufacturers who only try to increase the size of clothes. Specialized plus-size manufacturers take into account not only beauty but comfort during design and production. We have a dedicated design team for plus-size clothing, which helps to maintain the unique characteristics of the brand and to offer a wide range of sizes such as tops in 77~130 (L~6XL) and bottoms in 32~44 (L~6XL). In particular, our designers have endeavored to make the large-size products to be slim-line as well. And our highly professional production team is in charge of the entire processes of manufacturing.
Would you please tell us your major technologies or products, and how you could participate in the joint R&D project?
One of our major technologies is closely related with the understanding of customers. As to customers in their 30’s who look for plus-size clothing, they are not only obese but their body shape has been westernized due to western-style eating habits. And some of them experience changes of body type due to delivery. Based on the understanding of customers experiencing such changes, BIGNBIG has developed special patterns, grading, and sewing methods in order to provide clothes, comfortable but look slim at the same time. It would be very difficult for other competitors to imitate our techniques of applying stable patterns, slim lines, and bold styles into plus-size clothing most effectively because we have intensively focused our resources on the plus-size fashion over ten years.
Nevertheless, it is always challenging for a small and medium- sized business like us to increase R&D efforts due to lack of capital and human resources. But then we were given a chance to participate in the Performance and Report of Global Specialized Technologies Development Project by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy in 2011 (June 1, 2011 ~ May 31, 2012). With the subject of Development of Technologies for Making High-Quality Plus- Size Fashion Products, which is fitting our focus area, we could spur R&D efforts once again and take a big leap in the market.
Please tell us how the company has benefited from the project
I’m sure that the project has benefited us in four ways.
First, I’d like to emphasize our new grading system. We used the data of the 6th Size Korea survey project in 2010 and analyzed the body shape of obese women whose BMI (body mass index) is 25 or more. And we concluded that there should be more various patterns for each body type and thus developed a new grading system, making possible application of more precise and detailed size differences. As a result, the sleeve width and length of our plus-size clothing could satisfy our customers, which previously often incurred complaints.
Second, improved design. We heavily focused on market analysis of the domestic and overseas plus-size market, trends analysis, application of new materials, and new plus-size design. Accordingly, we studied and developed layered-look tops (vest+t-shirt or blouse+cardigan), considering that plus-size customers want the style but hate to actually layer their clothes. And such an attempt contributed to increasing sales of a blouse and dress, items that previously showed low sales volume.
Third, outstanding sales and distribution strategies. BIGNBIG has operated a customer feedback system through our offline distribution network, allowing customers to try on clothes and choose the right size for them, a service that most online shops can’t offer. And the collected feedback significantly helped us to develop better products.
We analyzed the needs and satisfaction level of customers through a panel of 24 consumers, wrote a report on the results, and developed lingerie, high-value mink products, and activewear so as to reflect the needs, employing various materials and items not previously used by other manufacturers in the plus-size market. And such a new approach has led to development of value-added products. In addition, we have improved the after-sales services by promptly responding to repair requests from customers.
Lastly, we’ve developed sewing methods for plus-size products and a variety of materials.
As to plus-size clothing, frequent complaints were reported as the seam of clothes often ripped open because of friction between the clothing and body parts such as hips or thighs, but there was no effective solution due to lack of studies.
However, we have applied the chain stitch method, which is often used for outdoor clothing in order to enhance elasticity, which could significantly reduce bursting out of clothes. At the same time, customers could be offered a wide choice of materials, and thus the sales of bottoms have sharply increased.
In terms of management, new products of BIGNBIG have contributed to creating jobs and 3~4 intellectual properties, showing an increase of sales by 23% compared to the previous year. We can observe that the products have stable sales and growing market share.
What is your future plan for the business?
The achievements from the joint R&D project are not limited to short-term results. In particular, the innerwear line, developed based on the project, has been well-received by the market and, now, we’re launching new design per every season. In February 2015 everyday outdoor clothing and easy-wear line was launched, adding to the increasing sales.
Even after the joint R&D project, we’re focusing our resources on developing new products that can meet the specific needs of plus- size customers. This is because the project helped us realize that research & development efforts actually affect profits of a company.
Now, BIGNBIG is planning to open 85 shops in 2016 and enter the Chinese market. Some may say the fashion industry is a quite saturated market but, if we take a close look at it, you can see that consumers do not have a wide choice because players in the market often ignore diversity and resort to duplication of design.
In this circumstance, BIGNBIG not only endeavors to offer plus-size clothing but also satisfy the needs of customers. Constantly exploring what consumers want and making diligent R&D efforts, we’d like to establish an effective shopping system, differentiating from other competitors, with the ultimate purpose of winning trust and support from our customers.
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