No more a fad: Plus-size fashion is serious business – Times of India
Plus-size fashion is fast emerging as a big growth opportunity for fashion brands and retailers. With the growing awareness around body positivity, sales are on the rise globally and in India. Plus-size consumers are increasingly looking for clothes that are not just the right size but are trendy, fit them well, and flatter their body types.
Plus-size fashion – A latent growth market
Plus size is no longer a niche segment or limited demography. Valued at $480,991.8 million in 2019, the global plus-size clothing market is projected to reach $696,712.1 million by 2027, according to a market report by Research and Markets, a global online resource for market data and business reports. The global plus-size market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.9% from 2021 to 2027.
Similar trends are reflected in the Indian fashion market. The plus-size segment (those who wear sizes beyond 0-12), constitutes about half of the total consumers in India, according to Statista, a German market, and consumer data company.
Brands can no longer ignore the plus-size fashion market as it is no more a fad but a serious apparel category.
Brand play in the plus-size fashion market
With plus-size consumers looking for the latest fashion and styles, similar to that available to consumers in other size categories, retailers are focusing on offering more plus-sizes and styles to this segment of buyers. Global sellers are launching new brands and clotheslines for buyers.
The plus-size clothing market in India has evolved. In the last few years, the segment has seen more product launches for plus-size buyers from leading Indian brands and retailers. Most fashion players are offering sizes ranging from 2XL to 5XL.
Another encouraging trend is that fashion designers are committing themselves to promote plus-size fashion by featuring plus-size models in prestigious annual home-grown fashion events like Lakme Fashion Week, Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, and India Bridal Fashion Week.
The growing interest from brands and fashion designers notwithstanding, plus-size consumers continue to struggle with limited offerings, size, and quality issues.
Most of the brands selling online offer plus size women buyers sizes up to 14 to 16 XL. Unfortunately, this size chart is not a real representation of plus-size clothing for women. Such collections exclude a large section of plus-size women buyers.
Unfortunately, compared to regular sizes, choices for plus-size women and men continue to be limited.
While the plus-size fashion segment is still primarily targeted at women, the men’s segment is also gaining traction, thanks to terms such as “dad-bod.” The most popular plus-size fashion items are mid-range smart casual clothing and athleisure.
At present, brands follow different size charts for plus-size consumers adding confusion and spoiling buyers’ shopping experience.
International and Indian brands with a presence in the plus size segment continue to cater to EU, US, and UK body types. These size charts fail to do justice to Indian body types.
Brands need to be more inclusive and invest in more variable sizes that specifically cater to the Indian physique. A more flexible and authentic Indian size chart will help retailers offer Indian consumers a uniform size tag across brands.
One of the key reasons for the lack of availability of a wide range of plus size clothing globally and in India has to do with manufacturers’ reluctance to produce such apparel as it raises production costs and impacts their profit margins.
Manufacturers continue to regard large-scale production of plus-size clothes as a risk as it requires more investment and effort to determine, manufacture, and stock varying plus-size garments.
Making it big with plus-size clothing
The growing tribe of direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands and the expansion of online selling channels together will drive future growth of the plus-size market.
D2C brands selling online offer buyers more options in terms of sizes and styles, unlike a retail store that stocks limited products. The convenience of shopping online also helps plus-sized people avoid body-shaming experiences in physical stores.
In the long run, plus size fashion market will be driven by genuine brands that are looking beyond joining the bandwagon of plus-size clothing and paying lip service to inclusive fashion. Moreover, consumers are now seeking trendy clothing, jeans, and occasion-wear clothing. The plus-size market will be powered by brands that are quick to recognize the growing demand for extended sizes.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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