Why Major Fashion Brands Should Pay Closer Attention to Plus Sizes

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Aileen Padua

Aileen Padua

“Plus size” is a term that refers to people who have sizes 10 to 18, or who are considered by the clothing market to be proportionally bigger than the average person. However, in recent years, the qualifier of ‘not-average’ has been hotly debated.

Why’s that?

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Nowadays, the plus size market is a $24 billion opportunity for fashion labels ahead of 2020. Aside from all the green, there’s a couple of other reasons why major labels should pay attention to this market.

Conversation About Body Positivity

The conversation on the dress sizes of the average woman have continued to evolve since the topic gained headline level coverage in 2016 when Sports Illustrated featured plus size model Ashley Graham on its famous swimsuit issue cover. If the plus size industry continues to revolutionize fashion, then why do the majority of fashion labels ignore this type of customer?

Plus sized women deserve to feel their best with the knowledge that mainstream fashion labels carry their size. A minor portion of 21st century fashion designers already embrace inclusivity in clothing. However, the conversation about body positivity recognizes that women who fit between the sizes of 10 to 18 need the same level of access to quality, stylish clothing options as individuals sized 0-8. Physical retailers need to need to get onboard with this and recognize the need to invest in stocking plus size fashion alongside standard size fashion products in-stores rather than online only or in specialty shopping outlets only. Doing so would not only benefit their revenue, but demonstrate more than passing lip service for supporting body positivity and improving the shopping experience for “big and beautiful” consumers.

Social Media Recognition

As Donatella Versace would say, “Plus-sized women shouldn’t think of themselves as a size. They should think of themselves as women with rich goals in life. Size doesn’t mean, really, anything. You can carry your size with pride and dress in a way that you like.”

Empowered by the connectivity of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, plus sized women all over the world have formed conversations and communities sharing their frustrations with retailers that fail to provide choices in their shoe and clothing sizes. Many plus sized influencers have shared that accessible sizing would help their community cultivate more pride and confidence in their dress. This has helped motivate fashion designers to begin innovating fashion in a different direction to serve this customer community.

Online retailers, such as ASOS, Mango, Boohoo.com, and Misguided already include a wide range of sizes for plus size women. Another example is SkinnyGirl Jeans. Former Real Housewives of New York star Bethenny Frankel started her own line for plus sized women called SkinnyGirl Jeans. This line includes different types of affordable jeans, leggings, and even loungewear available on HSN’s website.

How to Become A Plus Size Fashion Innovator

Consider designing a shoe or clothing line that includes plus sizes. One of the best things about private label is that it gives fashion designers the ability to create custom gradings, rather than sticking with ill-fitting mainstream presets. This way, the clothing you create for every body type can be fully dialed in to how that customer feels most comfortable in any piece of apparel, regardless of size. This will give your private label clothing line a market advantage and a press-ready angle for promotion.

Here are some quick tips on starting that journey:

  • Perfect your gradings: Collaborate with local tailors and seamstresses to help you develop accurate custom sizes for your plus size target customer.
  • Find a manufacturer: Connect with a manufacturer that you trust to bring your design to life accurately, respecting the custom gradings you created. Also consider working with your manufacturer on customizing sizing charts to make your customer’s shopping experience clearer and more accessible.
  • Be flexible: Being flexible on non-essential factors like, such as Minimal Order Quantities (MOQ’s), will benefit you as you develop your plus size line.
  • Stay connected: Always stay in touch and update your fashion network about your line. Informing your design team about the progress of those designs will help them feel more entwined in the manufacturing experience.

Will this pave a new path for the rest of the fashion community? How do you approach inclusive sizing for your customers? Comment below.

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