Over the last few years there has been mounting pressure on the fashion industry to become more size diverse and offer products geared towards the plus-sized consumer. Consumers have said they are unhappy with the choices of clothing presented by retailers. Physical stores in particular offer a limited range of products in larger sizes. Brands have used many excuses to justify themselves for not catering to this market. For example, brands have argued it costs more to make clothing for larger sizes (as more fabric is required) and plus-size styles do not sell as well as their traditional sizes.
In today’s society, brands would benefit from revisiting the plus-sized market which is continuing to grow, and should not be ignored. According to Pwc data, it is expected the market will grow annually by 5-6% until 2022, growing more than both the womenswear and menswear sectors. A recent article by Fashion United also identified that the average clothing size in the UK has increased from a size 14 to a size 16. It is therefore vital for brands to cater to plus-size consumers who are no longer a minority.
The plus-sized market has partly increased as a result of growing body positivity and the rise of plus-size influencers and models. These influencers have helped towards greater acceptance and awareness of the plus-size market by actively discussing their weight on social media and encouraging others to be accepting of their size. This has ultimately led to the growth of an online community and the use of hashtags such as #BodyConfidence and #LoveYourBody. The market has also grown due to busier lifestyles through work, social lives and hobbies, resulting in little time for exercise.
There are many steps brands could take to become more size inclusive. They are as follows-
Increase the amount of plus-size clothing available in stores
I recently heard someone say “I’m a size 16 and I want to be able to shop in the same store as my friend who is a size 12”. My advice is to make this possible! The better the experience a customer has when shopping, the more likely they are to buy from the brand. If you have never previously offered plus-sizes it can be really good to offer a limited range or capsule collection to see how successful these sizes will be without too much risk. As I mentioned earlier, so few brands offer large amounts of plus-sized clothing in stores. This could therefore create a competitive advantage for companies that do provide more options for the consumer.
Tweak traditional styles to work for the plus-size consumer
It can be very easy to make small changes to a garment made for smaller sizes so that it is form fitting for the plus-sized consumer. It can be as simple as adding an elasticated waistband for more room, an adjustable belt or increasing the amount of fabric in a particular area for comfort. If you need inspiration, ASOS is a brand that does this particularly well. Fast fashion retailer InTheStyle has even gone a step further and produces clothing that is suitable for all sizes with a size range of UK 4-24.
Integrate size diversity into the brands marketing methods
Models and influencers of a brand often show what kind of customer the brand is trying to attract. Utilise plus-size models and influencers, as this will help the plus-sized consumer to feel more accepted and valued by the brand.
Which brands do you think need to be more size diverse or which brand do you think are really good at being size diverse? Leave a comment and let me know!
*Photos sourced from Google Images, ASOS website and Instagram of the models/influencers