Is the Fashion World Finally Embracing Plus-Size Women's Apparel?
Plus-size apparel has experienced an uphill climb to acceptance. Only recently did the fashion world begin to listen to consumer demand for more plus-size options. Walmart recently launched its Terra & Sky line in plus-size, Kmart completed a rebranding of its plus-size clothing, and Nike launched its first plus-size collection. Still, companies have been slow to add plus-size offerings to their apparel lineups, even though the average woman wears a size 16 to 18.
However, Forbes recently published an article proclaiming that the fashion world is finally embracing the plus-size woman. According to the article, Nordstrom is expanding its plus-size apparel to include 100 brands, and the apparel will be integrated into the core size range, rather than a separate department. Express is also expanding its in-store size range to include sizes 00 to 18.
While we applaud retailers for doing the right thing, it's also a smart business decision. Retail has been on the decline since 2012, according to Forbes. Plus-size apparel, on the other hand, has been experiencing growing sales numbers. According to Katie Smith, retail analysis and insights director at EDITED, women's plus-size fashion is up 38 percent from two years ago.
“The plus size market is the fastest-growing segment in the U.S., but it still accounts for 1.6 percent of the market, which is baffling when you consider 67 percent of women in the U.S. wear a size 14 or larger,” she said, according to Forbes.
Smith attributes the shift to Gen Y and Z consumers that have used social media to make their voices heard.
“For too long, the industry has been entirely blinded to the fact that a consumer can be plus size and passionate about high-quality clothing and have the money to shop for it,” she said. “Social media has helped fuel discussion around inclusivity, acceptance and is challenging old stereotypes. The Gen Y and Z consumers are far more open-minded and inclusive than any other consumer before them. And their impact on luxury, advertising and beauty has been, and will continue to be, enormous. The increased body-positivity these consumers are creating is finally hooking the fashion industry.”
Luxury brands and retailers have been the most resistant to adding plus-size offerings. According to Smith, only about 0.1 percent of the luxury and premium market is plus-sized. However, Gucci has paid attention to consumer demand, and has expanded its lineup to include more large and XL sizes.
While this is all definitely a positive change, it's about time more retailers stepped up to include more size options. We hope this trend continues to gain traction in the fashion industry. And, given the numbers, it makes sense for the promo industry to continue exploring and evolving its plus-size apparel offering.