Plus Sized Clothing – Fashion Business Vs Fashion Fantasy

The Plus Sized clothing market is a booming industry. And there is certainly some evidence that the Fashion Industry is finally embracing this growing market rather hiding it at the back of the store.

Mintel, a leading market research company, has recently released a study highlighting the importance of this segment. According to Mintel:

  • Nearly 25% of UK women now wear a size 18 plus
  • Over 33% of UK men are squeezing into XL or larger.
  • The women's plus-sized clothing market has grown 45% over the past five years, compared to a 15% increase for total womenswear.

But, while the plus size is a tremendous opportunity, it also presents retailers with a conundrum; how to promote plus sizes next to regular sizes.

  • Over 50% of women who are size 18 find that not enough shops offer a range of choices to cater for different sizes.
  • More than 40% of women wearing size 18 and above believe that plus-size clothes tend to be less fashionable than smaller sizes.

For example, we've seen Macy's open and close plus Sized boutiques, as it struggles to find the right tone to appeal to the plus sized woman (without making here feel uncomfortable) while not damaging the brand's fashion forward image.But there seems to be hope. The popularity of certain models / body types is the best leading indicator of fashion direction (remember Twiggy and Kate Moss). And, the latest news from the runway suggests that the designer attributions are finally getting their head's around the idea of ​​a fashionable plus sized woman.

  • The emergence of Super Plus Models (eg, Ashley Graham).
  • For the first time, NY's Fashion Week will have a Plus Sized runway show.

This suggests that over the next few years we'll finally see Plus Sized womenswear emerging from the racks at the back of the store. You can expect to see greater integration of Plus Sizes and regular sizing, as well as the emergence of more Plus Sized designer boutiques. This also suggests that ad agency's will soon start putting more Plus Sized models in ads for unrelated products and services; as the stigma attached to a larger body size diminishes.

In-Depth Research, , is a full service market research firm providing strategic research services to global market leaders in many industries.