Casual Male spin-off thinks big

As consumers continue to grow taller and increasingly wider, there’s a greater need for everyday products to accommodate people of size. That’s why men’s apparel merchant Casual Male XL in late May launched LivingXL, a catalog of non-apparel products for obese men and women.

For example, the 48-page catalog sells a “Big John” toilet seat with a 1,200-lb. capacity for $124.95. LivingXL also sells a portable $139.95 lawn chair that can support up to 800 lbs.; this company sold out of this particular item in less than a month, according to Ric Della Bernarda, senior vice president of marketing for the Casual Male Retail Group.

According to federal statistics, about two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, up significantly from the late 1970s when 47% were obese. Della Bernarda says Casual Male did its homework before launching LivingXL. “I’ve been here 15 years, and we’ve conducted tons of research,” he says. “We’ve always heard of a need [for goods] outside of apparel.”

Last fall, Casual Male paid $400,000 to buy the Website, which has become LivingXL. Casual Male wanted to rebrand to make it more appealing to the audience, Della Bernarda says.

Besides selling items for the obese, Della Bernarda says LivingXL also caters to tall people.

The Canton, MA-based company mailed 350,000 copies of the book in May. It’s too soon to tell how many drops there will be this year, but Della Bernarda plans for at least five. “I really believe this is timely,” he says. “This became a natural extension to respond to customers’ needs outside of apparel.”

Many overweight or obese people have trouble finding merchandise offered in LivingXL. “We’ve aggregated a lot of items into one catalog and e-commerce site,” Della Bernarda says. “It is extremely difficult to find these products.”

Better still, “we’ve had a great response from customers already suggesting new items,” he notes. “That has given us great leads on new items so in the future we can offer a wider array of products.”

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