How can clothing brands win in the plus size fashion market? – Sourcing Journal
It’s kinda funny/not funny that the fashion industry still considers single digit sizes the norm just because it’s as it has always been. After all, the pandemic has caused stressful eating that has had most people pack on the extra pounds. And that’s on top of the fact that most Americans were already overweight. While some brands have figured out how to cater to the extended size market, there is still plenty of room for growth.
The plus size market continues to be underserved, said Nadia Boujarwah, founder and CEO of Dia & Co, a styling and e-commerce platform for sizes 10 to 32. She spoke at a recent Glossy podcast.
“One of the perils of the plus-size market is that because it’s so underserved, it’s easy to think it’s going to be easy to have a business in that category,” Boujarwah said. “If we have a product, customers will appear and the company will succeed. And the truth is, it’s just not easy at all.
Globally, the plus size market was valued at $48 billion in 2019, according to Allied Market Research, and is expected to reach $69.6 billion by 2027. The company found that casual wear accounted for the largest share of plus wear in 2019.
Boujarwah said brands that want Succeed in the plus size market must first invest in product development to get the right fit. Then they need to invest in inventory so the product is available both online and in-store if they have physical locations. Finally, they need to let customers know more that they carry products in their sizes.
“Customers of our sizes are extraordinarily blind to marks talking to them for the first time,” Boujarwah said. “It’s not that they haven’t seen these ads before. They just intuitively believe it’s not for them. We believe what is needed here is more shopping experiences, better shopping experiences, true access to style and fashion for all women. The more this can be true, the more that customer is present in the experience – and, therefore, the more the category can grow.
When consumers buy women’s clothing in sizes 15 and up, certain features play an important role in their buying decisions, such as comfort (96%), fit (95%), price (93%), quality (91 percent), durability (89 percent), and style (83 percent), according to Cotton Incorporated lifestyle monitor™ Survey. This is very similar to purchasing decisions for standard size clothing.
Since durability is a factor for this consumer, manufacturers and retailers should keep in mind that 73% of extended size consumers (size 15 and up) believe that the best quality garments are made from all natural fibers such as cotton, depending on the Monitor™ search. Additionally, 54% of these shoppers are willing to pay more for natural fiber clothing.
However, when citing their favorite item to buy, only 24% of plus-size shoppers listed clothing, according to the Monitor™ search. This is significantly less than those who are size 0-6 (41%), size 7-11 (30%) and size 12-14 (28%).
edited found price and style disparities may be in play in the extended size category. For example, cutouts in dresses, tops, bottoms, etc. are now very popular. However, Edited found that only 34% of cut products had styles in extended sizes. And of those that do, the selection is mostly in the XL to 2XL range, catering to the medium and small sizes in the plus size market. Another example: mini-skirts are a throwback to year 2000 clothing. But only 19% of retailers offer them in extended sizes in micro-minis. And matching sets, Peter Pan collars and cardigans that reflect the “twee aesthetic” are limited in plus sizes. Those found were priced higher than comparable styles sold to non-plus customers.
Among the brands dedicated to plus-size and extended consumers, Destination XL, Torrid and Ashley Stewart have experienced increased foot traffic every month for the last six months of 2021, according to Placer.ai, a foot traffic analytics platform. All three also topped the national clothing average in January and February 2022. Placer.ai also found that although Lane Bryant reduced its door count by 150 in 2020, its remaining locations saw foot traffic increase to two. figures almost every month last year, leading to a 23.2% Yo2Y increase in the average number of visits per site. The trend continued this year, with an increase in foot traffic in January and February.
“These measurements reveal that there is still healthy demand for physical Lane Bryant stores,” says Placer.ai. “If the brand is successful in sustaining another year of site visitation growth at 2021 levels, Lane Bryant might even consider adding a few more stores.”
Currently, plus-size consumers buy clothes in-store about 1.8 times per month, according to the Monitor™ search. This is comparable to the number of times they buy clothes online each month (2.1).
Recent Data from TrueFit, an AI-based sizing advisor, finds Old Navy, Nike, and American Eagle among America’s favorite fitting brands. TrueFit’s Fashion Genome connects the preferences and attributes of 89 million active members with data from more than 17,000 brands within its global network. TrueFit shoppers chose Old Navy as their favorite fit brand in 2022, followed by Nike, American Eagle, Levi’s and Gap. Old Navy has made a name for itself with a commitment to plus size apparel across its entire line.
Unfortunately for in-store shoppers, Gap Inc. recently announced that it reduce inclusive sizes offered in store at its Old Navy locations. Calling it “a realignment of store inventory,” Old Navy is removing extended sizes from 75 U.S. stores and 15 Canadian locations. The product, which ranges in size from 0-30 and XS-4X, will still be available online.
True Fit’s Jessica Murphy, co-founder and COO, says the future of sizing is label-free, “where shoppers no longer need to be guided to menswear, womenswear, more, junior or small”.
“Buyers want to feel understood by brands and fit is the most important connection a brand can make on the first purchase,” Murphy says. “Brands that get the right size and experience for their customers will earn long-term loyalty.”
The Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ is an ongoing research program that measures consumer attitudes and behaviors around clothing, shopping, fashion, sustainability, and more.
For more information on the Lifestyle Monitor™ survey, please visit https://lifestylemonitor.cottoninc.com/.