Ozempic Fuels Hunt for Smaller Clothes - Kanebridge News
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Ozempic Fuels Hunt for Smaller Clothes

Retailers see nascent sales boost fuelled by people switching to smaller sizes; ‘not something we’ve seen before’

By SUZANNE KAPNER
Mon, Jun 17, 2024 3:29pmGrey Clock 4 min

Apparel retailers are discovering that weight loss is their gain.

While blockbuster drugs like Ozempic that lead to significant weight loss have dented demand for diet plans and caused food companies to prepare for people eating less, clothing sellers are finding that millions of slimmed-down Americans want to buy new clothes.

The newly svelte aren’t just restocking their wardrobes, many are also gravitating to more body-hugging shapes and risqué designs, according to industry executives and shoppers. Some brands are responding by replacing zippers with adjustable corsets and adding more sheer looks.

The nascent downsizing is happening across brands and types of garments. Industry executives said that they can’t be certain weight-loss medicine is the cause, but added that the shift is unlike anything they have seen. It is also an about-face from recent years, when many retailers rushed to add larger sizes to accommodate Americans’ growing girth.

About 5% of Lafayette 148’s customers are buying new outfits because they have lost weight, often replacing their size 12 clothes with size 6 or 8, according to Deirdre Quinn , the brand’s chief executive. The benefit is twofold; in addition to boosting sales, Lafayette 148 is saving money because smaller sizes use less fabric, Quinn said.

More customers of clothing rental company Rent the Runway are switching to smaller sizes than at any time in the past 15 years, said Jennifer Hyman , co-founder and CEO. These customers are also showing more of a willingness to experiment with different styles such as cutouts and other body-baring features. “When you are more comfortable in your skin, you are more willing to try edgier looks,” she said.

For Maggie Rezek, getting dressed used to be about hiding her extra weight in oversize shirts and baggy pants. Since she lost 60 pounds on semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, the 32-year-old, who handles marketing for a beauty salon, has splurged on a new wardrobe. Now, her staples consist of crop tops and jean shorts. She has traded in her sneakers for kitten heels. She even documents her outfits on social media.

“Before, I was insecure about my body,” said Rezek, who lives in Indianapolis. “Now, I feel like I fit better in clothes. That gives me the confidence to dress up and be more stylish.”

Some 15.5 million people, or 6% of U.S. adults, say they have tried injectable weight loss drugs to slim down, according to a survey of more than 5,500 Americans conducted in March by polling company Gallup. Nearly three-quarters of current users said the drugs—a class known as GLP-1 that were originally developed to treat diabetes—are effective or extremely effective in helping them shed pounds.

Weight-loss drugs don’t work for everyone and the cost can sometimes exceed $1,000 a month, limiting the market. The full price isn’t always covered by insurance. Moreover, people struggle to keep the weight off once they stop using the drugs.

Still, some companies expect the market for these drugs will be big enough that they are shifting course. WW International , formerly known as Weight Watchers, acquired a subscription service that offers telehealth visits with doctors who can prescribe drugs like Ozempic. Nestlé is introducing a new food line this year designed for people taking weight-loss medication.

Clothing companies could use a boost. Apparel sales fell 4% in the 12 months that ended in April compared with the same period a year earlier, according to market research firm Circana, as people give priority to their spending on necessities.

Coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic, Amarra, which sells evening gowns and other formal wear in 800 retailers in the U.S., Canada and Australia, saw increased demand for larger sizes. Now, that trend has reversed.

“Over the past year, our retailers have been telling us they need smaller sizes,” said Abhi Madan, Amarra’s co-founder and creative director. Amarra, which is based in Freehold, N.J., has added sizes as small as 000. He says he is also selling more sizes in the 0-8 range and fewer in the plus-size range of 18-24.

Madan said the shift is changing the way Amarra designs dresses. It is replacing zippers with lace-up corsets, which can more easily accommodate shifting weights because the laces can be tightened or loosened. It is also adding more sheer side panels that give a figure-hugging look.

AllStar Logo, which sells polo shirts, fleece jackets and other gear to large companies, has seen demand for its largest sizes fall by half over the past year, according to Edmond Moss , its sales director.

“We used to sell a lot of fleece jackets in extra, extra large,” Moss said. “Now everything has gone down by at least one size.”

Sales of the three largest sizes of women’s button-down shirts fell 10.9% in the first three months of 2024 compared with the same period in 2022 at a dozen brands, according to Impact Analytics, which helps retailers manage their inventory and size allocations.

Sales of those same button-down shirts in the three smallest sizes grew 12.1% over that period. Impact Analytics analysed purchases in physical stores located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It focused its research on this area because it has the highest concentration of individuals in New York City taking these drugs specifically for weight loss, according to market research firm Trilliant Health.

A similar trend played out for women’s dresses and sweaters, as well as men’s polo shirts, sweatshirts and T-shirts, according to Impact Analytics.

Prashant Agrawal , Impact Analytics’ founder and CEO, said it wasn’t possible to know if the size changes resulted from people losing weight or a shift in clothing styles, but added that such a pronounced shift is unusual. “It’s not something we’ve seen before,” he said.

Some executives are worried that the shift could reduce demand for plus-size clothes.

“I’m trying to figure out what we have to worry about in the future,” said Doug Wood , the chief executive of clothing retailer Tommy Bahama, noting that as more people lose weight it could hurt sales of its “Big & Tall” collection designed for very large men.

Jillian Sterba went from a size 6 to a size 10 after the birth of her child. When the weight didn’t come off with diet and exercise, she started injections of semaglutide in October. Since then, Sterba, who is 36 and lives in Austin, has lost 35 pounds. She is now a size 4. “Almost half my clothes are not wearable,” she said.

She bought new jeans, tops, bras and underwear. “I had been wearing flowy tops before but now I’m wearing fitted shirts,” she said. Still, Sterba said she is keeping 80% of her old clothes just in case she gains back the weight.



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Leaders with epic hobbies seem to squeeze more hours out of the day than the rest of us

By Callum Borchers
Fri, Jul 19, 2024 4 min

Many of us can barely keep up with our jobs, never mind hobbies. Yet some top executives run marathons, wineries or music-recording studios on the side. How can they have bigger responsibilities and more fun than we do?

It can seem like ultrahigh achievers find extra hours in the day. They say they’ve just figured out how to manage their 24 better than the rest of us.

They also admit they take full advantage of the privileges of being a boss—the power to delegate and the means to do things like jetting to Denmark for a long weekend of windsurfing.

Dan Streetman trains as many as 20 hours a week for Ironman triathlons in addition to his job as CEO of cybersecurity firm Tanium. It’s a big commitment for anyone, never mind a corporate leader who travels to meet with customers every week. He pulls it off by sleeping fewer than seven hours a night and waking around 5 a.m., planning his exercise sessions months in advance, and switching his brain from work mode to sport mode almost as fast as he transitions from swimming to cycling during a competition.

“I tend to work right up until the day of the race,” says Streetman, 56 years old. “I remember being on a board call on a Friday night, and Saturday morning was an Ironman. That’s just part of it.”

Ahead of business trips, he maps running routes in unfamiliar cities and scouts nearby pools, often at YMCAs. He rides stationary bikes in hotel gyms and, if they’re subpar, makes a note to book somewhere else next time he’s in town.

Leaders who eat, breathe and sleep business can appear out of touch at a time when employees crave work-life balance and expect their bosses to model it. Today’s prototypical CEO has a full life outside of work, or at least the appearance of one.

Their tactics include waking up early, multitasking and scheduling fun as if it were any other appointment. When you’re a top executive, hobbies tend to disappear unless they’re on the calendar. One CEO told me he disguises “me time” as important meetings. Only his assistant knows which calendar blocks are fake.

Ben Betts calls himself a “spreadsheet guy,” which is a bit like saying Michelangelo was a paint guy. With Excel as his canvas, Betts creates cell-by-cell checklists for just about everything he does, from cooking Christmas dinner to building a coop for newly hatched ducklings.

Betts, 41, is CEO of Learning Pool, a professional-development software maker. The duck home is part of his ambitious effort to restore an 18th-century farmhouse in England. He’s been renovating for about five years and aims to finish this fall.

On a recent Saturday, Betts’s spreadsheet called for stripping overhead beams by 5 p.m. so he could refinish them. Otherwise, the task would have to wait until the following weekend, throwing off his whole timeline. His vision of the home as a cozy enclave—completed in time for the holidays—can only come true if he sticks to a precise plan.

“Sometimes I stand in the doorway, and my wife probably wonders what I’m staring at,” he says. “I’m picturing us on a corner sofa with our two kids and the dog, watching a film in front of the fireplace I installed.”

Back in the swing

John Sicard , president and CEO of supply-chain manager Kinaxis , got back into drumming many years after he let go of his dream to become a professional musician. He practices almost every day, but his sessions sometimes last only 20 minutes. He rehearses with bandmates two or three times a month. That’s enough to prepare Sicard, 61, to play Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin covers at occasional charity gigs.

He also built a studio in his house, where he records up-and-coming artists. He finds time by sticking to this management philosophy: “The most successful CEOs do the least amount of work.”

For Sicard, that means letting his lieutenants take charge of—and responsibility for—their divisions. Many corporate leaders work harder than they need to because they micromanage or hire poorly and pick up the slack, he says.

Thomas Hansen , president of software maker Amplitude, is back to windsurfing, a sport he competed in as a teenager. He lives near the ocean in California but gets out on the water only about once a month, when the waves are just right. Hobbies don’t need to be daily activities to be fulfilling, he says, especially if they require training regimens.

To stay in shape for windsurfing, he rises at 4:30 a.m., seven days a week, for an hour of exercise. Hansen, 54, also guards his Saturdays and Sundays like the crown jewels of Denmark, his native country, limiting himself to two working weekends a year. Things that feel urgent can almost always wait till Monday, he contends.

‘Like a badass’

When Christine Yen isn’t calling the shots at work, she’s circling a racetrack at 80 mph on her Honda CB300F motorcycle. The co-founder and CEO of Honeycomb, which helps engineers diagnose problems in their software, took up racing a few years ago.

Prepandemic, her motorcycle was strictly for commuting in San Francisco—and making an impression. She loved pulling up to investor meetings in her hornet-yellow helmet and leather riding suit.

“It fits me like a glove, and it makes me feel like a badass,” says Yen, 36.

The keys to spending full days at the track are planning and being willing to work at odd hours, Yen discovered. Her favorite track publishes racing schedules in 10-week batches. As soon as a slate is released, she circles the dates when she expects her workload will be lightest, aiming to participate in roughly half of the events.

“I have also been known to bring my laptop to the motel and get some work done in the evenings,” she says. “It sounds boring to say hobbies can be scheduled, but that’s how I protect my time.”