Plus-sized clothing in America’s fashion business


Fashion stylists will often advise that good fit is always crucial, but when it comes to market estimation America’s fashion industry is behaving like they have mislaid the measuring tape. A often referred research done by Plunkett Research a few year ago showed that 67 percent of women in America were “plus-size”, which means they are size 14 or larger. Figures did not change very much, but 2016 ended with only 18 percent of sold clothes being plus-size. This was revealed in NPD Group study.

Plus-sized segment was always referred to as a high-risk from retailers and designers. It can be very difficult to predict what will these customers by because they pay more attention to style than others. On top of that, making larger clothing is more expensive, and higher expenses for fabric can’t always be passed on to shoppers. On the other side plus-sized women did not shop that much as the industry was not delivering very well. Kristine Thompson, who runs Trendy Curvy blog with almost 150,000 followers on Instagram said that the problem is not money, but that they have “nowhere to spend it”

But that is also slowly changing. Many fast-fashion brands, along with Forever 21 and a fashion line sold in partnership with Target have decided to expand their plus-sized collections. Also a plus-size retailer Lane Bryant and Prabal Garung, a designer did the same thing. And in March Nike also extended its“X-sized” sportswear range.

Compared to 7 percent growth for apparel, it’s good news that plus-size income category increased by 14 percent between 2013 and 2016. Last year takings were $21.3 billion. Madeline Jones, editor and co-founder of PLUS Model Magazine said that one of the important factors in changing opinions and attitudes were social media. However, designer are still holding back. Some brands sell plus-sized clothe but without posting them on internet or advertising them anyhow. Although there are some internet startups like
Stitch Fix, Gwynnie Bee, and Dia & Co that deliver personally styled outfits to individuals, including plus-size women and offer data to “straight-size” designers. They share information with designers on preferred styles and fits. One of the brands that recently enlisted Gwynnie Bee’s help to create a new plus-sized line is Tracy Reese, same designer that created dress for Michelle Obama she wore at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Gwynnie Bee is encouraging the label to come up with bigger patterns and more attractive designs.

But not all plus-size consumers are persuaded. A hairstylist from Texas, Laura Fuentes said that majority of upmarket department stores keep their plus-size sections badly organized and badly stocked, if they have larger clothing at all.