Plus Points of Plus Size Clothing


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Nowadays consumers have started concentrating more on their taste buds rather than consuming figure conscious food. This has resulted in changing of their body shapes, which has led them to shift towards bigger size clothes.

Those already at a higher end of the weight scale need perfect fitting garments especially designed to suit their ‘curl and curves, ’ thus expanding horizons in the sizing needs. Industry suppliers after a long time have considered satisfying the ever-growing demand for the broadest of size ranges.

The demand of plus sizes is increasing and a bigger size range means good business. The plus-size market accounted to over $6.5 billion in 2005, almost 30 per cent of the total women's fashion market.

The demand of plus size apparel has not left the mannequins untouched. As they now attract the maximum attention, custom made models can now be seen wearing collections in sizes 14 and 16, with a large butt, curves and fleshiness. Such new displays are a reminder that plus-size customers also are a significant part of the clothing industry and they are now demanding a better choice of clothes than ever before. Consequently more and more producers, designers and retailers have geared to meet the increasing fashion size requirements.

Generally juniors purchase S, M, L and XL; misses are for XS, S, M, L and XL and women can choose from 1X, 2X, 3X and so on.

While individual designers have begun targeting the ‘increasing size market, ’ California-based Ashworth Inc. , which brings Ashworth and Callaway brands together to the marketplace, explains that size ranges in women's business have increased with the fashion of the times. In the Ashworth/Callaway lines, men's sizes go from S through 3XL, with women's sizes extend from S through 2XL, and the biggest sizes were added to the assortment in 2004 due to high demand. Though 3XLs amount to less than 1 per cent of the business, the range is still very important for the company.

Currently there are many suppliers who have been adding a variety of sizes to keep up with the increasing demand; Tri-Mountain has made men's styles to 4X ‘forever’. Further more, of the 170 styles produced by the firm, 100 of them are available in Talls as well as up to size 6XT. Basic sizes in women's apparel at the line are XS through 4XL. 2XL forms almost 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the market with the change in the sizing demands.

One more supplier with a long history of out-of-the-ordinary sizing is San Francisco Knitting Mills. Their standard size for men's wear is S through 3XL, and in some core products like oxford shirts, the size goes to 4XL. In women's wear, the size range is SX through 3XL in tops, with pants ranging from size 2 through size 30.

Hartwell Classic Apparel, which launched Liz Claiborne retail styles in the industry, offers standard men's wear in S through 5XL, and women's wear in S through 3XL (Liz is S-XL, and 1X, 2X, 3X). The company has made 3XL, 4XL and 5XL in the last three years and has some 8 styles in XLT and 2XLT.

With more and more suppliers having bigger sizes as a popular choice, the implication is clear, if a vendor is not offering larger sizes, then the firm is losing business to its competitors.

Growth in ‘plus-size’ consumption in the US

In the US, the general scenario saw specialty stores and discounters faring well at the end of 2005, whereas chain stores sales declined during the period as heavy discounts at the end of the holiday season period offset the sometimes heavy traffic during the week. According to the report made by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and UBS Securities LLC, sales decreased by 0.8 per cent in the last week of December after increasing by 2.8 per cent in the prior week.

The young plus-size shopper, who is normally identified as a woman who wears size 14 or larger, is becoming more and more important to retailers. According to a survey, in the last year plus-size apparel sales increased by 13.2 percent and teen plus-size increased by 14.2 percent, against 5.6 percent for all women's clothes.

Many retailers, covering the Gap and J. Crew as well as more clearly teen-focused companies such as Delia's and American Eagle, sell larger sizes online than they sell in stores.

Industry research shows that some plus-size women chose to buy in private due to their negative experiences in stores.

Many consumers, producers and retailers noted that the US domestic apparel sizing in application today is more obsolete and does not match with the current body measurements system of women, regardless of age. The conclusion of the research explains that there is dissimilarity in measurement, both in length and hip size.

The institute for Standards Research, a division of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), provided funds for research to evaluate the body measurements patterns of women to increase the US ready-to-wear garment fit, labeling information and the US domestic apparel sizing system.

Over one-third of overweight children wear adult or junior size clothing

A survey conducted by NPD Group stated that about one-third of all children in the U. S. were overweight and finding clothing that fits their child has become problematic for mothers of such overweight kids. According this report, mothers of overweight children accounted 31 per cent of their nine to twelve-year-old boys and 38 per cent of girls, who at this age are already wearing men's, women's or junior-size apparel.

The overweight nine to twelve-year-old boy and girl seem to be baffled between youth sizing that is too small and adult sizing that is larger, but not proportional. According to this report, 74 per cent of overweight boys and 84 per cent of overweight girls in the nine to twelve-year-old age group are “sizing up" to buy sizes other than those normally produced for children of their age.

NPD noted that pants are the most difficult clothing item to purchase for overweight children. Shifting to adult sizes means that the jeans fit too long for boys and are ill-proportioned in the hips, waist or legs for girls.

According to this report, overweight boys are twice as likely to wear men's-sized apparel, as against total boys age's nine to twelve. Over eight in ten mothers of overweight girls aged nine to twelve reported “the choice of clothing styles that fit my daughter is limited;" almost as many (79 per cent) stated that “I can't find the stylish clothes my child wants in sizes that fit. " One mother noted “clothing is too risqué" for her 12-year-old daughter.

and weight calculations of Body Mass Index (BMI), only 13 percent of mothers said they find their kids to be overweight. When assessments were carried out according to the child's height and weight, the number of overweight kids was much closer to the CDC projections - a huge 34 per cent.

According to this report, plus-size women and big and tall men are keen to shop at separate stores or special sizing racks. NPD also noted that big & tall men are more likely than others to purchase their apparel online or by catalog.

Kids, like adults, often have special size requirements. Shifting to bigger sizes is only one part of the solution. The problem for retailers and brands will be to identify that there is a noteworthy disparity in communicating and connecting with adults and children's special size requirements. If a retailer tackles this issue then receiving just a small share of this group will make some important growth in revenue.

Big & Tall men say that they have to look beyond typical in-store buying because most retailers do not allot a large amount of floor space for special sizes. 33 per cent of Big & Tall men declare that they shop for their clothing online, as against 21 per cent of regular-sized men who do so. Big & Tall men's rate of catalog purchasing is about double than that of men who do not need special sizes

Source: The NPD Group / NPD Fashionworld / Men's Big & Tall 2005 Majority of the men reviewed informed that their fit issues are related to shirt lengths being too short (54 per cent) and/or sleeves being too short (42 per cent). Tightness in many areas was also a difficulty with most of these men, mostly in areas such as the neck (38 per cent), chest (33 per cent) and shoulders (38 per cent).

Matching pants to fit Big & Tall men also is a challenging task. Significant fit areas such as the waistband and thighs were too tight for many men (35 per cent and 30 per cent respectively).

Suggestion for retailers and manufacturers

A few suggestions below will help the manufacturers and retailers to understand the requirements of the plus-size market better.

Making more styles and more sizes for the age group of 45 years and more. . Providing styles available in the present fashion scenario in big sizes for the age group of 58 and more. . Offer clothes which are appealing to a younger audience. Mimic the styles found in regular clothing stores -Age 21 . Having better options of sizes for age group of 46

Dawdling growth of UK economy: Plus-size garment the only exception

UK economic projections point to an unassuming growth in activity through 2006, but the economy is not anticipated to give a fast rate of growth until 2007. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reported that the UK economy has had its slowest growth in 13 years in 2005. Though, the marginal growth in 2005 is determined by a growth in exports, a keeping of strong Government spending and an unexceptional consumer recovery.

In November 2005, UK retail sales reduced to its all time down in 22 years. The reduction in consumer spending was influenced by increasing oil prices, which made a noteworthy effect on the costs of travel and energy. A cold winter in 2005 / 2006 has speeded up a soaring level of expectancy, due to which it is believe that energy costs will increase the share of household incomes and hence reduce demand for consumer goods. For imported products, the UK economy has trimmed down its demand. According to experts, GDP growth has lost pace from 3.2 per cent in 2004 to a predictable 1.7 per cent in 2005 and is projected to regain only to 2 per cent in 2006. Consumer spending growth has decreased from 3.7 per cent in 2004 to an anticipated 1. 7 per cent in 2005 and is projected by retail watchers to remain constant through to end 2006. Some consider retail sales growth could well drop under 1 per cent in 2006 from just over 1 per cent in mid-2005.

In London, the retail segment went down due to the prolonged matter of international terrorism in the wake of the 7/7 bombings in the British capital. Down turn in real estate value has further deteriorated the situation. The British Retail Consortium explains that UK has already started a retail decline, with like-for-like sales experiencing negative for eight consecutive months and declining by 0.7 per cent in the three-month period to October 2005.

Another retail analyst has also reported that the number of shoppers has decreased by 5.2 per cent over the last 10 months to October 2005, as against the same period last year, with a 1.8 per cent weekly fall in October alone. However spending on consumer goods in the High Street has decreased, the arrival of 24-hour licensing set up in November is supposed to result in increased leisure sales, with particularly 18 to 25 age group spending more in bars, pubs and clubs. The jewelry and watches market is inclined for continued healthy sales on residual feel-good seasonal outlook that will stay continue as a hangover after the Christmas season.

A UK National Sizing survey describes that today women are taller with a bigger bust and hips. However this survey was conducted for UK only, the trend is common worldwide.

Other economic trends point out that, instead of the deceleration in the economy, there is one segment of the consumers which is not tagged along with the declined trend- the plus size market, which appears to be more flexible than the general fashion market. The prospects of the segment depend on trends in the US fashion market, where plus-size clothing was not largely influenced by a down- turned economy. Many retailers in the industry have started to consider the aspects of woman by setting up advertisement campaigns that feature plus- size models. The marketing strategy is to attract plus- size women shoppers in the direction of the stores.

Many important companies in the UK stock clothing in plus-sizes. Some have increased size varieties on normal collections and others have made special collections mainly targeted to plus-size women. A research report has recommended that younger women choose specialty shops; and women in the 45-54 year old “Baby Boom" category are more probable to buy clothes from increased size ranges and not from specialty shops.

The foremost specialist chain, Evans, working with about 400 stores brings various ranges for younger women. Marks and Spencer, UK's biggest clothing retailer, stocks some styles in plus-sizes, launched in 2000 by introducing an advertisement campaign presenting a plus-size model. New Look's varieties of plus-size clothing, Inspire, were introduced in the spring of 2000. The company noted that typical customers are women who had before purchased at New Look, but could not find their size in stock and who have now came back, and also customers who now require larger clothing and want to remain fashionable.

Hennes & Mauritz's BiB (Big is Beautiful) range is made for the fashion-conscious woman with the large figure. It covers a huge range of lingerie. Another retailer Debenhams possesses fashion varieties that cover plus-sizes. Even designers are not left behind in taking holds in this market segment. Anna Scholz has a collection that covers the full size varieties.

Indian retailers also in the ‘plus’ race

In India, the trend of plus size clothes began in the 70's and is still in demand. Plus size kurtas are more comfortable and they also look good. The entire northwest part of India is an important market for their products and they would likely increase in the region gradually.

The demand for large sized clothing has been noticed by the big outlets much recently. Shoppers Stop, for example has introduced clothes for larger sized women; they have launched many styles in the XL to XXL sizes.

A Delhi-based entrepreneur, Chandan Wadhani inspired by the concept of ‘Tall and Big Stores’ in Western countries, has established his shop ‘Just My Size’ for those who are oversized but fashion-centric. ‘Just my size’ is a brand name set up by SNG Clothing Company and has a production unit in Delhi and its in-house designing team. It designs both summer and winter wear.

According to them the customers visiting their outlet wanted privacy because they were very conscious about their heavy weight. So they do not wish to enter the shopping malls. Chandan assumes that there is great potential for this business as the changing food habits, coupled with sitting life style, results in heavy weight problems and such people in India are increasing swiftly in numbers.

The brand's present range covers stylishly designed Tees, capris, trousers and jeans for women at various price ranges. Moreover, the clothes are classified into casual cottons and semi-corporate or office wears. The sizes are available in `XL', `XXL’ and `XXXL’ ranges though the largest size `JMS’ currently caters to goes a tad beyond - it's `XXXXL’ , even they provide the largest size up to 64 inches of waist.

United Colors of Benetton provides western wear for women in large and extra large sizes. It has extra large sizes in jeans, shirts, tees and skirts.

Department major Ebony, Delhi, also offers western wear for women in large and double large sizes. This includes jeans, trousers, tops and shirts.


Due to the fast life and consequently the habit of eating junk food, it seems a majority of children, women and men will be over weight and hence the demand of the plus size market will always be there. Besides, there are individuals who are much fond of wearing a new plus size fashionable garment which are also trendy and fit them well. - Leading B2B Portal and Marketplace of Global Textile, Apparel and Fashion Industry offers Free Industry Articles, Textile Articles, Fashion Articles, Industry Reports, Technology Article, Case Studies, Textile Industry News Articles, Latest Fashion Trends, Textile Market Trends Reports and Global Industry Analysis.

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