Fashion Inclusivity Case Study: Good American

Marissa Lopez

Marissa Lopez

Content Specialist
440 Industries

Introduction:

Two words. GOOD. AMERICAN. Khloé Kardashian and Emma Greden have undoubtedly revolutionized the denim industry and have now branched out into loungewear, activewear, swimwear, and even luxury footwear while keeping inclusivity at the forefront of everything they do. 

Launched in 2016, GOOD AMERICAN has redefined what it means to be truly inclusive time and time again through their campaigns, sizing options, and company values. This inclusive brand made denim history by selling $1 million worth of denim on its launch day. They have also managed to become B Corp certified, meaning they hold themselves to the highest standards of sustainability and environment-friendly practices in the manufacturing process of all their products. 

Mindfulness and catering to everybody are just a couple of philosophies the multi-million dollar company has always been true to. As stated in their website goodamerican.com, they are “not just a brand, [but] a movement”.

1. About Khloe Kardashian and Emma Grede

This female duo has created a brand that has shaken up the fashion industry on a global scale. Good American was built on a solid foundation that was formed by two women who were tired of the status quo and saw a huge gap in the industry that they knew they could fulfill. These two business-savvy women have traveled through two distinctly different paths in life which have ultimately led both Khloe and Emma into each other’s path. They have gone on to utilize their different experiences to their advantage and form the perfect business team. 

British-born Emma Grede has studied at the London College of Fashion, then eventually worked for a fashion production agency, which then led her to work in New York City and ultimately in Los Angeles. Emma Grede had an epiphany when she was pregnant with her daughter that led her to create Good American. She’s quoted in Emirates Woman stating “I wanted to start my own company that I would be really proud of and that she [her daughter] would be really proud of.” 

With the birth of her daughter came the birth of a movement that proudly celebrates all women of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Emma Grede is quoted again expressing her motivations for creating Good American stating, “When I started thinking about and exploring the opportunity for Good American, it was clear that so many women are ignored by the fashion industry, and I wanted to create a brand that bridges this gap.” Emma Grede did just that and stayed true to those words. 

Once the idea for Good American was coherent and strong, then came time to execute her multi-million dollar idea with a solid pitch to none other than the business queen herself, Kris Jenner. Emma had become connected with Kris Jenner throughout fashion weeks that took place in Paris, the two habitually discussed the various projects they were working on which then led to her casual pitch for the overall idea of Good American and to persuade Khloé Kardashian to go on board with her idea as her co-founder. Emma Grede recalls the super casual nature of her business pitch to Kris Jenner and reenacted how it went in an interview with Emirates Woman stating, “Hey, I’m doing this thing, and I’d really love Khloé to be my partner,’ and she loved it but said she’d talk to Khloé.”

Khloé Kardashian and her famous family are known all over the world for their reality T.V show Keeping Up With The Kardashians and numerous business ventures. Hailing from Calabasas California, Khloé grew up in a very image-conscious world and so looking your best was a top priority. Fashion has always been a huge part of Khloé Kardashians life, admitting her mom wasn’t a fan of sweatpants or sneakers, and so she was always really dressed up or in her terms “suited and booted from head to toe”. 

Throughout her glamorous life, there have been moments of darkness and despair from constantly mocked for being the bigger sister in her family, which then prompted Khloé to decide to take things into her own hands. She began her life-changing fitness journey and began proudly promoting the importance of body positivity and the importance of loving yourself. 

After Kris shared the pitch with Khloé, she had Emma Grede fly out to Los Angeles to meet with her and the rest is now history. From the very beginning, the moment they sat down together, it was crystal clear their visions perfectly aligned, creating the dream partnership for the record-breaking brand. 

Grede is quoted expressing her impression of their first meeting, “As soon as I started speaking, she started chiming in with stories… Immediately, we were both on board with the idea that we were going to create this empowering, inclusive brand.” A brand like no other, might I add.

2. Strong Value in Inclusivity

Good American labels itself as the first fully inclusive fashion brand with their sizes ranging from 00-24. At the company’s core is its love and appreciation for all body types, they want to ensure that their customers feel heard, feel seen, and feel included. The slogan featured on their website states “Your curves are our cause”, which I believe reflects the reason behind the founding of Good American. 

When discussing empowerment, co-founder Emma Grede is quoted stating, “Power, to me, means making sure every woman feels heard and included.” This is the precise philosophy she has instilled in her barrier-breaking brand, Good American. In this all-inclusive brand, “It isn’t just about fashion and trends, our brand is about creating something that helps empower women to feel their best and break down barriers,” says Grede.

When they first launched five years ago, Good American’s first focus was on denim, but at the core of its focus was size-inclusivity with their jean sizes ranging from American size 00 to 24. That major gap in the market Grede saw was undeniable and revolutionary – on their launch day, Good American sold $1 million worth of denim. This clearly gave them insight into just how many women have been ignored by fashion brands in the same market. Once that gap in the industry was clearly distinguished to the Good American team, there grew an appetite for more. The brand has since expanded its apparel to include activewear, dresses, bodysuits, trousers, and most recently swimwear and luxury footwear. What’s great about Good American is that they implement their wide range of sizing to every single item that is created under the Good American umbrella. 

Both Good American co-founders acknowledge the fact that historically speaking, the foundation of the fashion industry has been built on hurtful standards of exclusivity, that specifically caters only to certain body types they view as being worthy to wear their designs. They have gone on way too long intentionally carrying a limited range of sizes while representing an unrealistic body ideal that perpetuates a toxic cycle.

 Good American’s continuous goal is to further pioneer the all-inclusive space they have created by truly listening to their customers’ concerns and needs to directly impact their design choices and product launches. The brand has created a new channel for many women, particularly many curvier women, and women whose body types have been constantly scrutinized, the same women who have been forced to shop for lower-priced, and low-quality clothing since it has been the only option available.

The overnight success of Good American is undeniable and hasn’t gone unnoticed by other brands and fashion houses. Big brands such as Michael Kors are taking note of the impact Good American has had and now they are beginning to recognize the issue of size-exclusivity in the fashion industry. 

Grede is firmly aware they are just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to improving the size-inclusive standards in fashion by stating, “We still have a long way to go, but we’re excited to see the industry take steps in the right direction while leading the way.”  

However, these strides for change haven’t been without their trials and tribulations. Emma Grde candidly admitted in an interview with Emirates Woman, It has been challenging to transform the way the industry views the inclusivity and body positivity movement, and understand that it’s not just a trend, it’s the future of business,” explaining that the movement can oftentimes feel superficial. Most brands do view the body positive movement as just another avenue to cash in without actually doing the work to undo the toxic practices that have been plaguing the fashion industry for far too long. “Not all retailers will put their money where their mouth is,” she then candidly adds. “There are a lot of costs associated: bigger sizes take extra fabric, shooting a product on different sized models and more.”

When it came time to partner with retailers they could sell their apparel to, there were many hurdles along the process including getting retailers to carry every single size Good American has to offer.Traditionally, straight sizes are displayed in one location while plus sizes are offered in a separate section,” the Good American co-founder explains. “However, this went against the very core of Good American.” Finding the right partners to work with that will fully stock their sizes hasn’t been the only challenge they’ve had to confront, another challenge is also influencing the industry to enthusiastically change the core beliefs ingrained in the fashion industry. 

Included in Good American’s core principles is to work with partners that are not only willing to showcase size inclusivity, but do so through portraying various diverse groups of women. Grede and Kardashian took matters into their own hands when it came to this concern of theirs, by going directly to the women that would be their ideal customer and the women that would be typically excluded. They tackled this challenge by launching an open casting call for Good American’s first seasonal campaign that took place in 2017. The goal was to pick an extremely diverse cast that reflects real life.  

Their first open casting call was tremendously successful. Since then, the Good American Open Casting has been held annually. In addition, it has become a whole movement in itself. The open casting program Good American conducts gives a wide range of women from all different types of backgrounds the chance to join the #GoodSquad, which consists of a group of real women who full-heartedly celebrate and inspire Good American’s core commitment to inclusivity, diversity, body positivity and female empowerment

The goal for Good American is to leave a lasting impact on the fashion industry, influencing  it to be more inclusive and real than when it first entered it. Staying true to the foundations that built Good American to be the all inclusive brand we all know and love has become one of the most enriching parts of Grede’s journey with Good American. 

Emma Grede dives further on the topic by saying, “Being able to impact the lives of women has been the most rewarding experience,” she continues. “Whether through our Open Casting initiatives, or talking with customers on social media, our customers are really the ones shaping our product offerings and the future of Good American. They keep us motivated each and every day.” Good American is a brand like no other, one that truly cares about true representation of all types of women from around the world.

3. Marketing Strategies

Good American may have begun with only four employees, the current number of employees has reached over 90 people. Good American’s growth is undeniable, in fact, Good American’s brand ambassadors who also double as models for the brand, together titled the “Good Squad” have reached over 170 people. The women that make up the #GoodSquad freely share the campaigns they have been a part of to their Instagram followers, which adds an extra promotion for the company. 

At Good American, social media plays a crucial role in their marketing strategy. Social media is at the forefront of Good American’s marketing strategy and they have dedicated an immense amount of resources to it. Social media, such as Instagram and Twitter are the platforms where a lot of customers discover Good American and they use it as a tool to understand what the brand is all about. The brand advertises heavily through Instagram and has even incorporated billboards for their campaigns in the past. For example, they utilized four billboards in Los Angeles for a month timed to the launch of its performance activewear collection in 2018.

Good American has grown its Instagram following to 1.8 million Instagram followers. Following in the footsteps of the majority of brands out there today, the company has worked with influencers to help spread the Good American message, however, the company has a unique approach to influencer relations, unlike other brands. Social media has also become a primary source of customer feedback and information for Good American designers to tailor products based on consumers’ concerns and comments. 

Since Good American is a predominantly direct-to-consumer brand, they heavily rely on the real-time concerns of customer feedback that it receives through comments or direct messaging aspects of the social media platform Instagram. Additionally, their reliance on social media will continue to grow as new features continue to emerge like IGTV and as the native shopping feature picks up more momentum. 

The Good American team pride itself on having an open and honest dialogue with each of their customers and they are always integrating what is important to their audience into their design process. Crowdsourcing is another extremely valuable tool for Good American to help determine what product and design feature their loyal customers need in the future.

The honest feedback they received led Good American to introduce last year the elusive size 15 to its size range. After taking the time to analyze the return data and conducting a series of focus groups, the Good American team had come to the conclusion that standard sizing in the industry creates several fit issues for many women who land between sizes 14 and 16. After much reflection and research, they realized there was a huge opportunity for a size 15 that did not exist anywhere on the market. Social media helped Good American revolutionize the industry once again. Utilizing all aspects of social media allowed Good American to take notice of what else was missing from the market to fulfill that much-needed gap in order to meet their customer’s needs.

4. Doing Business

Good American has been careful about choosing retail partners they want to work with. The brand has tried to expand very carefully when it comes to conducting their business internationally and their wholesale partners to see that they are truly adhering to everything Emma Grede and Khloe think is important. Right from the start, Good American shipped their products globally, but it is based on the local demand for size-inclusive brands. The globally recognized company now has a physical presence with wholesale partners that are located in Australia, Canada, and all throughout the region of the Middle East. 

Good American has unapologetically expanded to new categories based on the demands of their retail partners. The company’s wholesale partners were giving them insights into the market letting them know that their offering was too limited for the Good American customers and that there was plenty of space to dress the women they cater to from head-to-toe.

In alignment with head-to-toe, Good American started exploring how much they could expand their company by dressing customers from day to night, which led to their activewear launch. More on the topic, Grede is quoted from an interview with Glossy stating, “We never go into a category unless we think we can do what we’ve done from the beginning, which introduces real innovation in fit and fabrication.The signature Good American fit they are known for is focused on its four-part waistband, which was designed in-house. Furthermore, category expansion has played a key role in retaining Good American consumers. According to the co-founder of Good American Emma Grede, the majority of customers start as Good American denim customers and eventually branch out to shop from other categories.

Since the start of Good American, Grede and Kardashian have been directly engaging with customers on social media platforms Instagram and Facebook, where they actively seek out product and design feedback, before going through the route of customer surveys and in-person meetups in stores.

The two founders have been focused on the company’s retail expansion via its own stores and retail partners. Kardashian and Grede are still examining all the ways they can be in touch with their Good American customers at all times. A key business practice they instill in the company is the ability to take the information their consumers are giving them and carry out the best decision for the business based on that information

The saying ‘If the customer speaks, then we’ll act, is a saying they have always done business by and actively implement that saying whenever customers voice their concerns‘. According to Grede, she believes most of their evolution within Good American has emerged from being great listeners, truly understanding what their customers really want from the company and making the necessary decisions based on those wants.

Conclusions

Even though Good American has roots in the USA, the brand has a global reach and has become a global phenomenon. People all over are taking note of Good American and are loving what they stand for. It’s refreshing to see a company that is truly genuine in every move they make. 

Good American has just scraped the surface of this previously untapped market. While hearing the feedback from Good American customers about how much they adore their products, it’s impossible to ignore all the responses posted all over social media to the company’s priority on women empowerment, inclusivity, diversity, and body positivity. 

Women empowerment, inclusivity, body positivity, and diversity are the core values of Good American, and what it means to be a good American. It is apparent that women from all corners of the world resonate with this movement.  It is truly inspiring to witness such powerful women make fashion history in my lifetime and to see how much care they have for their brand and how much attention they give to every detail in the construction of the company from the ground-up and with astounding core values. While it has been a tough journey for the two CEOs, it is clear now more than ever they have made major leaps and achievements.

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Fashion Inclusivity Case Study: Good American Inclusivity and Diversity are two huge dimensions of fashion, but few companies actually walk the talk. Good American is one of them.
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Marissa Lopez

Marissa Lopez

I’m a Latina from the small Southern California town Fillmore, famous for its orange groves and featured in many television shows and movies. I’m currently finishing up my Bachelors in Global Studies at California State University Channel Islands. I have a strong appreciation for all things fashion and combine this appreciation with my interdisciplinary background in contemporary issues facing humanity in a globalized world to conduct research on trends, inclusivity in the industry and the evolving landscape of the fashion world.

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