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On the Up The Plus Size Market


The Facts: 

+ Women are becoming larger and heavier than they were 20 years ago. The Baby Boom generation is reaching their 40s and 50s, with over 60% of them falling in the plus size category.

+ Due to an increase in demand plus size clothing is now available through many major retail stores, including extensions of size ranges to include larger sizes and clothing lines specifically dedicated to larger women. However, many feel that choice is limited and that there should be more on offer.

+ The new average measurement is a size 14, rather than a 12, which was the average size 40 years ago. As a result Marks & Spencer now use 14 as its base size and has altered the company’s whole production process to account for the new size.

+ Research has shown that women of the Baby Boom generation, age bracket – 45-54, prefer to buy clothes from extended size ranges rather than specialist plus size shops.

+ Forecasts predict that the plus size market will be worth over $6.5 billion by next year, representing almost 30% of the total women’s fashion market, compared with only 25% in 1997.

+ It is hoped that advances in technology will provide a boost to the plus size sector, with 3D body-scanning providing more accurate sizing.

The current retail leaders in the market:      

Evans Evans – the specialist chain has almost 400 stores in the UK and also sells online. Evans offers a complete range of Plus Size fashions including: casualwear, formalwear, outerwear, petites, tall, nightwear, special occasion ranges, lingerie and footwear. Sizes range from 16 to 32. www.evansfashion.com

H&M H&M’s ‘Big is Beautiful’ range is dedicated to the fashion conscious consumer, sizes go up to 30 but can only be found in H&M’s larger branches. www.hm.com

Debenhams Debenhams the UK’s leading department store stocks many ranges in plus sizes including: Elvi, Debut and J.Taylor. www.debenhams.com

Marks & Spencer Introduced their Plus Collection in 2000 along with an advertising campaign that featured a plus size model. The store stocks some styles in plus-sizes but choice is limited. Sizes are available from 20 – 28. www.marksandspencer.com

New Look New Look’s range of plus size clothing ‘Inspire’ was also launched in 2000. Inspire offers fashionable and trend led clothes in larger sizes. www.newlook.co.uk

Asda George at Asda produces most of its womenswear stock from size 10 to 24.

Anna Scholz Is the only UK designer that offers fashionable, feminine and sexy clothes from size 8 to 26. Her label is stocked in 65 stores worldwide, including: Selfridges and Harrods in the UK. Scholz has dressed many high profile women including: Macy Gray, Dawn French, Jo Brand, Queen Latifah, Roseanne Barr and Jocelyn Brown. www.annascholz.com

And the rest:

Etam Plus

Dorothy Perkins

Marina Rinaldi

Ann Harvey

Frank Usher

French & Teague (Sixteen 47)

Empire Stores Catalogue

Next Directory

Freeman’s Catalogue

The reality:

+ A recent survey has shown that the majority of women size 16 plus cannot, for most of the time, find fashionable clothes.

+ Most size 16 plus customers have a preconceived notion that certain fashionable shops will not stock clothes in their size.

+ 60% of plus size shoppers said they felt frustrated by the lack of choice on offer and therefore disliked shopping for clothes.

+ The size 16 plus shoppers also felt that they had to pay at least 20% more for a larger size. {mosimage}

+ The survey also revealed that many felt that the clothing available in larger sizes was unflattering, unsexy and unstylish.

+ There is a complete lack of exposure for plus-sizes in the media with hardly any fashion spreads featuring models over a size 10.

+ Over half of the British population is size 16 or over and yet there is no specialist magazine targeted at this group.

+ The fashion industry has been accused of not accepting plus collections as actual fashion, with a lack of plus size presence at major fashion shows and exhibitions.

Anna Scholz recently commented: “There is, a large and frustrated market out there just longing to be tempted to shop. But designers and retailers have to recognize that these are real women with proper lives. They want chic clothes, fashionable clothes, well-made clothes, clothes that celebrate their femininity and sensuality. They don’t want camouflage.”


By JoJo Iles


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