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Plus-size clothing: the new safe haven for U.S. fashion industry

By Angela Gonzalez-Rodriguez


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Business |ANALYSIS

New York- Move on athleisure, plus-size fashion is here to stay and has already conquered the hearts and budgets of many in the apparel industry. Spending on this niche is on the rise and so are the opportunities for retailers wanting to tap on the 46 dollars billion opportunity.

Over the past months the industry has witnessed a non-stop drip of retailers launching their own plus-size labels or growing their large size fashion ranges. If Nordstrom Inc. began selling plus sizes from circa 100 brands online and in 30 selected stores in May, other highlighted fashion players decided to launch their own specialized labels. That was the case of J. Crew Group Inc.’s which announced in July it was adding a size-inclusive collection

Meanwhile, non-apparel centric retailers have also spotted the opportunity and started to invest in their inclusive-sizing. Amazon has included plus sizes in its new private fashion labels, while Walmart also in 2018 introduced its Terra & Sky plus-size brand.

Demand for plus-size fashion ranges from affordable clothing to luxury labels

Until today, many retailers—especially those that sell luxury apparel and accessories—have failed to recognize the opportunity offered by the plus-size apparel market, said in an interview with ‘Digital Commerce 360’ Patrick Herning, CEO of e-retailer 11 Honoré. The plus-size retailer raised 8 million dollars in a Series A funding round in earlier this year, adding to a total 12 million funding since its launch in 2017.

“Our customers want the same options and are demanding the same level of luxury as women in other size categories—but it wasn’t available,” Herning said to the digital publication. “If you do find a size 12 or 14, the styles are limited.”

Herning’s insight is backed by a study published in the ‘International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education’ that revealed that the average American woman wears a misses size 16-18, which corresponds to a plus-size 20W.

According to The NPD Group’s latest data, U.S. retailers sold 21.4 billion dollars’ worth of women’s plus-size clothing in 2016, while Coresight Research estimates that plus-size sales represented around 17.5 percent of all women’s clothing sales that year. Looking ahead, NPD forecasts that the US women’s plus-size apparel market will grow at an average of 4 percent annually from 2015 to 2020, from 20 billion dollars to 24 billion dollars.

Photo:Terra & Sky collection, official Walmart website

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plus-size clothing