Brands still don’t fully understand plus-size consumers

Sports retailer Nike has stepped into the plus-size clothing space.

More than half of the women in the US are plus-size, with 67% wearing a size 14 or larger.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American woman’s measurements equate to a size 14, while others have it higher than that.

ModCloth, along with Paradigm Sample, conducted a survey of 1,500 US women aged 18 to 44 years old and found that more than 50% of women wore a size 16 or larger in some stores. The number of women who wore a size 16 was larger than those who wore sizes 0, 2, and 4 combined, according to the survey.

Of those women 92% agreed with the statement that, “I get upset when I can't find cute clothes in my size.” Coupled with that fact, 81% of women said that they would spend more if there were more options in their size and 88% said they would buy more if there were trendier options.

Brands are looking to step into that space and deliver apparel to a consumer base that have been severely passed over. The size of the industry surely backs it up: plus-size apparel is a $20.4 billion market growing 17% year over year versus 7% for non-plus size apparel.

Brands are making moves into plus-size clothing

Sports retailer Nike has stepped into the plus-size space. With everything from t-shirts, to sports bras, to leggings, the athletic apparel brand has expanded their sizes. In a statement, Nike said, “Athletes have a desire to get the best fit and function in their apparel. They also want to feel good. This is why Nike is delivering the most robust range of sizes for women in more colors and styles than ever before. From a 1X to 3X, Nike’s expanded Plus-Size collection is crafted to ensure the perfect fit at every size.”

Stitch Fix, the online personal styling service that mails you clothes that you decide to keep and buy or send back, expanded to include plus-size clothing in February. They now are carrying more than 90 brands and include sizes 14W through 24W and 1X through 3X. Previously, the largest size that the service provided was a 16 or XXL. According to Stitch Fix, there were more than 75,000 women on the waitlist for the larger size options.

However, accepting all body shapes isn’t a new trend in marketing, Dove has been promoting body acceptance through the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty since 2004. With campaigns such as #BeautyIs and #MyBeautyMySay over the years, Dove has encouraged women, especially young women, to embrace their body no matter its size.

Interestingly, Amazon is hiring a Senior Brand Manager, Plus-Size Fashion. The posting writes, “Amazon is looking for a passionate, industry veteran, with the proven ability to create credible fashion assortments and establish a strong point of view to lead the product and merchandising strategy for one or more brands within Softlines Private Label. Ideally, the successful candidate will leverage experience and established relationships in the fashion space to build strong product assortments.”

Others are just getting it wrong

In February, Zara was criticized for its recent “Love Your Curves” campaign. The ads, which feature two very thin girls in blue jeans, have been attacked for not showing curves at all. In addition to only going up to a size 18, Zara seems to have used the same type of models and thus missed the plus-size market altogether.

In 2016, ASOS got called out by its followers on Instagram around plus-size models. In a post, they called a model “plus-size” and many reacted saying that she couldn’t be regarded as plus-size and the brand should remove the wording altogether. After fixing the verbiage, to make it “Model and travel film-maker @NaomiShimada is all over this season’s fave ASOS slip dress. #AsSeenOnMe.” ASOS also responded to individual commenters, writing: “You’re right, that label sucks. We’ve amended the post.”

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