Plus Sizes Mean Big Business for Fashion Brands
Of all the trends spotted during the latest rounds of fashion shows one of the most promising was the inclusion of more plus size (or should we say standard) sized models on the womenswear catwalks.
It was great to see Ashley Graham walking in the Michael Kors show, and both Marquita Pring and Candice Huffine on the Prabal Grung runway. And when a designer like Rei Kawakubo weights in on the topic by creating a lineup of “outfits” that look like bulbous exaggerations of the female form – and proclaims that the collection was all about “the future of silhouette” – then something is clearly stirring in the fashion waters.
Slowly but surely brands are waking up to the fact that, according to the NPD Group, the plus size market was a $21.4 billion dollar business last year, which is a 23% increase from 2013. Stella Jean recently teamed up with Marina Rinaldi to create a colorful Spring/Summer 2017 capsule collection and asked Alessandra Garcia (the daughter of the actor Andy Garcia) to be the face of the collection. While Grung just announced his own limited-edition collection with Lane Bryant.
“Working on the collections with Marina Rinaldi has meant to me a synergy of values sustained by the need to convey a new concept of multiculturalism applied to fashion, which promotes cultural crossover without ever compromising one’s own identity,” explained Jean about her collaboration. “Not having the aesthetics as a goal and ultimate goal, but using it as an instrument to get to a sense. You can’t think about doing pure entertainment without attempting, through fashion used as a tool, to change the status quo,” she added.
Kors’s signature runway collection goes up to a size 16 while Chanel has long been supplying designer pieces up to a size 20. The same is true for Missoni, Dolce & Gabbana and Max Mara. It’s actually surprising that more brands don’t start sizing up considering that in the United States alone over 60% of American women would fall into the plus size category.
But not everyone can afford designer prices for well-fitting clothing in larger sizes. And considering that more than 30% of those who bought plus size clothing in 2015 were teenagers, it’s evident that there is a real market affordable priced, double digit sized, pieces.
It’s this reason that singer Beth Ditto decided to launch her own line of affordable clothing for plus size figures. “What I really didn’t want to do with this line was to have it so focused on looking smaller or shaping your body to have a certain silhouette.We are not just thick girls who all have the same shape. I wanted to make things for people who had all different kinds of big bodies,” ” said Ditto while presenting her debut collection.
One company that has been at the forefront of catering to this clientele is Asos.
Not only does it have its own Asos Curve collection for women, it offers more than twenty other brands that target the plus size womenswear market. And in January the company took its approach to the democratization of fashionable clothing in a larger size range even further. It announced that it would be giving menswear the same sort of range as its womenswear.
Even more underrepresented then plus sized womenswear, fashionable menswear in larger size is an untapped market. Particularly when looking for more tailored garments that are not inspired by streetwear. Asos now has sizes that go from brawny XXXL to XXXXXL, not to mention pieces designed for taller men who clock in at 6 feet, 3 inches and above.
“Asos offering a men’s plus size line is a great step forward,” said Bruce Sturgell, the founder of the website Chubstr, which focuses on the wardrobe needs of brawny men. “Most clothing for big men on the market right now is expensive and not very focused on contemporary style,” he added.
Besides its own in house labels Asos is also carrying big and tall sizes from close to 20 other designer brands like Ted Baker, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren and Levis. Designer menswear brands could learn a lot from this e-commerce retailer.
If the fashion industry wants to stay relative, in a world where social media has given customers a powerful platform on which to promote or berate brands that don’t fulfill their expectations, they need to serious start looking at expanding their sartorial vision to include more sizes, and thus more clients.
Jessica Michault is the Senior Vice President of industry relations at GPS Radar by Launchmetrics. She is also the editor-at-large for ODDA magazine and contributes to publications like the New York Times, the Business of Fashion, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Mixte magazine.
this is happening on
The Shake Up At Tokyo Fashion Week
Two key changes at Tokyo Fashion Week this season will be affecting both the business side and the creative side of the event going forward. First, in terms of business, Rakuten has stepped up to beco...
Shanghai Fashion Week is Betting on the Home Team
Shanghai Fashion Week is betting on the home team when it comes to the future of its fashion week. It is looking inward at local talents it thinks, with the right support, will be able to make a globa...