Latinx-owned Wray has opened its first brick-and-mortar store in New York as the plus-size fashion startup continues to raise its first round of investment.
The trendy, ethically sourced clothing brand, which trails Universal Standard as one of North America’s largest plus-size fashion brands, is focused on continuing its revenue growth trend for 2023 after rapidly growing from $200,000 annually to $3 million in less than three years . years and achieving a repeat customer rate of 59 percent. It sells a full range of products including denim, knitwear, footwear and dresses along with accessories, swimwear and homewares.
“As a child of Mexican immigrants, I always felt a little different compared to my peers,” said Wray Serna, founder of her eponymous brand and former co-founder and chief design officer of Clotha, a venture-backed fashion technology company and app. “That feeling of wanting to make something that would make everyone feel special and yet certainly is why I made Wray. Our mission is to make fashion accessible to everyone of all sizes.”
The store at 38 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side saw significant in-store revenue within the first two months of opening, exceeding expectations by 75 percent, the company said. The label, which has worked with plus-size influencer Kellie Brown, has caught the attention of former Aidy Bryant and “Saturday Night Live” actress Hilary Duff.
Serna said she connected with Brown online during the pandemic and the two hit it off quickly.
“I was inspired by her Vogue post and when Kellie agreed to work with Wray, I was thrilled,” she said. “Kellie has personally become a great source of support and I greatly admire her work. We started the design process with an effortless peek [virtually] into her wardrobe and discovering the vintage pieces she owns.”
Wray is now raising funds from investors as it expands into new categories, including jewelry, and digs deeper into areas like home goods. Previous investors and advisors include ModCloth founder and chief financial officer of Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), chief revenue officer at Alexis Bittar and others.
According to SeedInvest, an equity crowdfunding platform that connects startups with investors online, Wray has raised $323,000 as of Jan. 10, surpassing its $250,000 minimum goal, though it is still accepting investments — a minimum of $1,000 — as Serna confirmed Wray wants raise a seed round of $2 million. It is currently valued at $8 million.
Founded in 2015, Wray prioritizes green, responsible and reliable manufacturing that offers garment workers livable wages and benefits. It says it works with responsible factories, uses closed-loop manufacturing and sources what it describes as environmentally conscious materials, often in the form of recycled inputs. The brand says it ensures ethical working conditions with its manufacturing partners, such as Friends Factory in India and Kusa in Peru, which are assessed and approved against Fair Trade Good Practice (FTGP) standards. Wray also uses reusable, compostable packaging.
“Ultimately, sustainability at Wray means making clothes you’ll want to wear again and again,” Serna said. “That’s why we design clothes to last and bring a little joy every time you reach for them.”
By the end of the year, the company plans to launch an internal buyback program as part of its circularity ambitions.
Also in preparation for 2023 is the return of wholesale (started in 2015 but paused in early 2020 due to the pandemic) by renewing its relationship with distribution partner Nuuly, and its first runway show for New York Fashion Week, as well as the expansion of the expanded category shoe sizes, adapted to wide shins and standard shins. Wray said he expects to secure a partnership with Netflix in 2024, open stores in Portland, Oregon and Chicago in 2025, and launch a wedding by 2026.
Wray said he wants to succeed where Old Navy infamously faltered in trying to serve the full spectrum of women’s sizes, a lapse that has contributed to a loss of revenue for the Gap Inc. brand. of 19 percent, approximately $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2022. Plus. , Old Navy doesn’t focus on sustainability and instead prioritizes low prices, selling dresses for around $40, while a similar item from Wray costs $200 on average. And while Old Navy is popular among women ages 35 to 44, according to consumer insights firm Helix, Wray, by his own admission, caters to Generation Z. Wray could position himself as a challenger to Old Navy to illustrate market potential which includes the size of . He also points to Reformation as a competitor, as the two have similar pricing, customer base and focus on sustainability, with the key difference being that Reformation only offers a few larger size options.
“Our target demographic is fashion-forward shoppers who are looking for pieces that are sustainably made and will last,” Serna said. “Our sizes range from XXS-6XL with a custom option for 6XL and up. Most of our customers identify as ‘she’ and ‘they’, however, we do have some male customers. Our boots are made up to size 13 so our trans customers finally have something feminine to wear. We also have mother-daughter customers. We are ‘everyone’s’ brand.”
In the US, many women struggle to find affordable, trendy and sustainably made clothing for the full range of sizes, with investments above a size 12 commonly seen as resource-intensive and too risky.
“A lot of plus customers don’t have the opportunity to go to a store and physically try on clothes, that’s a luxury that usually exists in smaller sizes,” Serna said. “We find that our customers like a physical store to have the experience of trying on clothes in store, and many have described it as a safe place.”
Approximately 67 percent of women in the U.S. wear a size 16 or larger, and plus-size clothing continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments in the entire fashion industry, with Credence Research estimating the market value at nearly $265 billion by 2027.
And brands are taking advantage of this growing market.
Dsquared released an extended-size capsule last year, while Adidas selected the 11 Honoré for high-end sportswear exclusively in sizes 1X-4X. And Victoria’s Secret just closed on the purchase of Adora Me, the plus-size intimates B Corp that’s helping the new owner revamp its notoriously exclusive image.