By Warren Shoulberg
Oversized “Bubba” recliners have been a fixture of the furniture industry for years. And super-sized everything, from fashion to food, are commonplace throughout the country as Americans continue to lose their fight against an increasingly larger silhouette.
Now, there’s furniture that fits.
BrylaneHome, the online and print direct seller, earlier this year introduced what is arguably the first line of products specifically targeted at the fuller figured segment. Called Plus Size Living, it is led by furniture that focuses mostly on seating for plus-size customers.
“This is an underserved market,” said Kevin McGrain, senior vice president and general brand manager for BrylaneHome, “and we have the expertise and know-how to fill this niche and provide a service to our plus-size customers.”
Filling that niche required the development of specific products that would not only functionally serve a larger, heavier user but also would continue to look similar to regular-size versions of the same products. The line also includes non-furniture items designed to serve this customer.
The initial line, which debuted over the summer, focuses on four specific product categories:
•Indoors, featuring chairs, bath products and sleep aids.
•Outdoors, including chairs, step stools, beach sets and umbrellas.
•Healthy Living, consisting of exercise items, health monitors and personal care products.
•Accessories, including seat-belt extenders, hangars and travel products.
BrylaneHome is a division of Redcats USA, a multi-brand direct seller, many of whose units, such as Avenue and KingSize, are specifically aimed at apparel for the plus-size customer. The company said that experience allowed it to understand the home needs of this customer.
“Based on feedback, as well as positive response to an initial test we knew we had created a successful and much-needed product line,” McGrain said.
Plus Size Living appeared as an insert in mid-year catalogs from both BrylaneHome and KingSize, as well as appearing on the Web sites of both brands.
The initial rollout seems to have produced positive results, said McGrain. “Customer reviews regarding this new collection have been overwhelmingly positive.” He said Brylane has heard from customers who “shared personal testimonials about how some of the products have really made certain aspects of their life easier.”
Typical of the furniture in the program is the King Kong Chair. Resembling a conventional folding chair often seen at outdoor events, the Brylane version holds up to 800 pounds and sports a 38-inch wide seat, yet folds up into a carrying bag as the standard-sized version.
A desk chair in the line has a weight capacity of 500 pounds and has a 29-inch cushioned seat. Five legs and a metal frame help carry the load. Step stools can handle 1,000-pound loads.
The Big Cat Chair is a lawn chair that also holds 500 pounds and there are beach chairs with similar capacities.
But the collection is not just about scale. It also addresses health issues often associated with overweight people, including sleep apnea. A contour pillow in the line is designed to create a sleeping position that allows for increased air flow. There are also remote readout scales and blood pressure monitors, plus an oversized remote control device.
Some items in the collection are conventional products, such as towels, shower curtain rods and cleaning items, that could be used by plus-size customers.
There’s even an oversized toilet seat called—what else?—Big John.