<< back to Retail

The Changing Face of the Plus Size Fashion Industry


An example of a successful plus-size retailer 

plus size simply beAll of the women’s plus size clothing from Simply Be is designed specifically with the curvier woman in mind. This UK based firm was one of the first to realize that it was a mistake to simply scale up clothes that were designed for skinny figures. They realized that taking this approach meant clothes clung in all the wrong places, and were too baggy in others. Instead, they design clothes with the fuller figure in mind. This means that a size 22 blouse bought from them actually does up across the bust, and fits properly. 

(Image right: Simply Be UK)

Simply Be was one of the first to see the potential of the plus-size market. They launched their Simply Be plus-size brand in 1999 and have not looked back since. In 2010, they expanded into the US market and in 2011, they opened high street stores in the UK. 

Where the demand is coming from 

Data that has been lifted from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys data shows that the average American woman is now a size 16. You can read the full study here

plus size models ashleyNaturally, these women also want to look stylish, so demand is high, and growing. Those retailers that are focusing on this sector are the ones that are growing fast, in the US. The same thing is happening in many other Western countries. In under a decade, the average size of UK women has gone from a size 12 to a size 16. 

Something similar is happening with men. On average, American men weigh 15lbs more than they did 20 years ago. The fact that people are getting taller too, is also fueling demand, in what was, until recently, seen by many as a niche market. 

(Image left: Model Ashley Graham on the cover of Elle Magazine)

The future of plus size fashion 

Finally, plus size fashion has gone mainstream. Models like Ashley Graham, Georgia Pratt and Iskra Lawrence are leading the way by appearing on catwalks across the world. At the latest New York fashion show, 27 plus size models appeared on the catwalk.

<< back to Retail