December 28, 2001, 12:00 AM

A plus for big guys

PlusSize.com, the e-shopping mall that caters to women size 12 and larger, has launched PlusGuys.com for the big and tall man, featuring links to KingSize Direct, Spiegel, Eddie Bauer, Big Dogs, Lands’ End, J. Crew, Old Navy and Fingerhut, and offering content designed to attract the male shopper.

Think only big women have a hard time finding fashionable cloths that fit? PlusSize.com doesn’t think so. The e-shopping mall site that caters to women size 12 and larger late last year launched PlusGuys.com for the big and tall man.

The site features links to KingSize Direct, Spiegel, Eddie Bauer, Big Dogs, Lands’ End, J. Crew, Old Navy and Fingerhut. But since everyone knows guys need more than just clothes to entice them to shop, it also offers products from such specialty retailers as The Sharper Image, Dicks Sporting Goods, REI, and Bass Pro Shops.

“Casual Male is always looking to expand its presence on the Internet and we expect PlusGuys.com to help us achieve this goal,” says Chris Hoenes, web marketing manager for Casual Male Big & Tall. “PlusGuys.com should appeal to big and tall men, as well as to the women in their lives who are interested in buying fine quality clothing at reasonable prices.”

Adding a men’s shop isn’t the only innovation that the young online shopping mall-it went live in June-is adopting. It also is planning to offer customers the opportunity to try clothing on a virtual model early this year beginning with Elisabeth by Liz Claiborne fashions. The modeling technology will be provided by Montreal-based My Virtual Model Inc.

Other retailers may choose to offer the modeling service as well, says Jeff Recker, PlusSize.com CEO. Each retailer will contract individually with My Virtual Model for a minimum of 20 garments to be rendered in the modeling technology. The models will reside at PlusSize.com, but customers will not be able to use them to mix and match products from different retailers.

Recker believes plus-size women are more likely to use the virtual fit technology than non-plus-size women. “Garment fit is of paramount importance to the plus-size consumer,” he says. “Often, they are forced to shop from catalogs and they don’t have the product selection at the store level. They are likely to use this technology as a way to decrease their returns.”

If the test goes well, PlusGuys.com may offer the technology as well. That could happen as soon as the second quarter, Recker says. m

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