With Plus Size Options Comes Better Segmentation- An Explanation

Plus Size Options, we have them. I have been wanting to revisit this topic for a while now. As I share more designers and brands, one of the biggest and loudest comments I see is about cost and the prices of these garments. As fashion and plus size evolve, so do the idiosyncrasies and nuances of fashion itself, as it pertains to plus size.

With Plus Size Options Comes Segmentation

Over the past 15 years, US plus size fashion was quite limited, leaving us Curvy Fashionistas with very little or if any options for shopping and discerning which pieces were of a fashionable standard. NOW, with the rapid amalgamation of options within plus size clothing, one could easily find herself lost, frustrated, confused, irritated, or flustered when shopping for an ideal outfit or piece of clothing.

Here on the blog, I do not mention prices and do this deliberately. I want to showcase and show off the plus size options, rather than you focusing on the price of something. Showcasing the items and the options we have is raising awareness to the growth of the industry :) A few years back, I wrote about this on the blog, but I needed to revise, improve, and revisit this with you!

Why?

We no longer have one option to dress our curves- we have many, we have options.  However, to better understand and sort through the madness of them all, a budding Fashionista must first understand what these newer segments are and learn the identifiers of these to shop smarter, not harder.

No really WHY?

I want to help you understand what to expect, so that you do not get frustrated, mad, or angry. The more options we have the more similar are the issues shared in straight size fashion. With these options, as in the straight- sized market, you will find certain segments within fashion that are grouped together by price, quality, fit and/or style aesthetic. This allows us to know WHAT to expect when shopping from a retailer or brand, or designer.

For the sake of argument and looking at this if were on the floor at…. Bloomingdales, we will group these segments for plus size fashion as straight sized fashion does to help explain the price discrepancies, size differences, in relation to the integrity and quality of a retailer’s or designer’s garment, skipping over the couture segment, let’s dive on in.

Designer Plus Size Fashion

Plus Size Fashion Segments and Options

One step down from Couture relative to price and exclusivity, but still serves a discerning and well to do client. Yes! They do exist! Goods that are of a higher quality and a respective higher price point are the fashion leaders within plus size. Designers such as: Cinzia Rocca, Elena Miro, Marina Rinaldi, Armani Collezioni, Fuzzi fall into this category.

These luxury designers are oftentimes carried in specialty boutiques or department stores such as Saks and Neiman Marcus and often sell for more than $500+ an item. Expect the finest fabrics, usually imported from overseas, have a more conservative cut, with the exception of Elena Miro and Fuzzi- but even Marina Rinaldi is changing their silhouettes, impeccably tailored, fully lined, natural fabrics, with exclusivity in availability.

Bridge and Better Plus Size Sportswear

Plus Size Fashion Segments and OptionsA “bridge” between better and designer, this category is often for career separates and dresses in finer fabrics – think Lafayette 148, Anna Scholz, Eileen Fisher, and David Meister. Usually priced under $1000. Found in most department stores, the bridge department is where you will find some of the most recognizable names in fashion with respectable levels of quality and construction. There are usually more conservative cuts with fashionable pieces here as well.

Also included within the bridge department also sits those Secondary lines- like Michael Michael Kors and DKNYC. This allows designers to offer their fans a step into their world at much lower prices than the designer category. The price points vary, but often secondary lines retail for less than $300.

Better Sportswear typically sells for less than $500 that offers those co-ordinates for our day-to-day lifestyle.  Think Melissa Masse, Calvin Klein, and Jones New York and retailers like Navabi.

Contemporary Plus Size Fashion

Plus Size Fashion Segments and Options

A segment that has been making HUGE fashion strides over the past five years, Contemporary plus size fashion is a segment that has had major room for improvement. Are often the thoughts leaders, innovators, and risk takers within the plus size fashion segments, as they continually challenge the status quo or the norm in what fashion should be for the discerning plus size woman.

This fashion forward segment presents mid-priced (sometimes at the same price points as Bridge and Better) fashions both fashion forward and quality driven range from the low $100s and can command up to $500. This segment focuses on the fashion forward options and edge. This segment usually targets the 20-30+ aged woman with more body conscious fits, daring silhouettes, and bold statements.

Think Savvy, TBD, mirroring the contemporary collections represented in Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Saks, contemporary plus size fashion offers the fashion forward plus size woman options tailored to her curves at a moderate price point.  Quality in these fabrics are only a sidestep lower than their luxury counterparts, introducing innovative blends in fabrics, specific silhouettes inspired by the designer’s artistic inspiration, and, like its luxury designers, have more intricate detailing. These designers such as Amanda Uprichard, CarmaKoma, Jibri, Monif C., Vince Camuto, and Single Dress, are just a few who fall into this category.

Moderate Plus Size Fashion and Fast Fashion:

Plus Size Fashion Segments and Options

I combined these on purpose. Sometimes, some of these retailers produce items that are quick in its turnaround but with a better level of quality and price (moderate) or at a lower price point and lower life span (fast fashion).

In moderate plus size fashion, this segment varies greatly and usually retails for less than $150. Think of your Evans, Simply Be, Igigi, Gap, Land’s End, ASOS, Lane Bryant, and City Chic, all brands who produce fashion or carry collections a step above your fast fashion counterparts.

Items move fast, with highly fashionable items, mass-produced, but with a controlled access and definitive brand image.

Fast fashion garments are quickly produced product in a cost efficient manner, delivering high fashion looking garments, at the lowest price possible. With the ability to mass produce up-to-the-minute trends and incredulously low price points, fast fashion provides edgy, often directly inspired from design houses, looks that range from as low as a $10 price point up to a $150 price tag.

To be worn for the moment, the lifespan of these fast fashion fashions are intended to last for the current season. Torrid, H&M, Forever 21, and smaller online plus size boutiques fall into this mix. I bring up these online boutiques because of their rise in the online space. It is important to know that these online boutiques oftentimes buy from junior plus size fast fashion manufacturers who produce in bulk.

Discount Plus Size Fashion

Plus Size Fashion Segments and Options

The segment discount can sound a bit confusing but this serves its purpose. Usually looked at loss leaders, these retailers have quickly adapted to the fast fashion concepts leveraging their consumers buying power and reputation to fashion exclusive designer collections.

However, the division and classification of what to expect from these segments do not stop there. Challenging and changing the fashion climate over the last year, discount leaders have created strategic partnerships with Contemporary Designers to bring affordable fashions to the masses. Retailers such as WalMart, Target, and Kmart fall into this category and have collaborated with the likes of Norma Kamali, Just My Size, Pure Energy, and others to bring quality fashion at an affordable retail price.

While there are a few designers and retailers who straddle various segments and this is a loose guide to help you to understand these differences. Each segment both provides and serves its purpose in the ever diversifying industry of plus size fashion with the options we now have! It is all about learning about them!

NOW, it is all about options. It is important about knowing the differences in these segments so that you know what to expect when shopping a particular designer or retailer.  Learning the difference affords you the ease of a headache or frustration when shopping to put your best curve forward! Exciting right?

To find out more about any of the plus size designers mentioned in this article, please visit Plus Size Designers, the plus size boutique directory, or read about them in the Plus Size Designers search results!

What do you think of this revised segmentation? Does this help you prepare for what to expect when you go shopping? Leave a comment and let’s chat about it!

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  • Berry

    That was a clear and informative guide to the landscape. Thank you!

    • http://thecurvyfashionista.mariedenee.com Marie Denee

      Happy to help… it can easily get overwhelming! Trying to help however I can!

  • Juliette Mitchell

    Good summary Marie! I always amazed when women complain about the price of clothes. If you are a savvy shopper, you can always find great deals on what you’re looking for – that’s why sales were invented!

    • http://thecurvyfashionista.mariedenee.com Marie Denee

      :D I love you @juliettemitchell:disqus Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • Janet

    where can I buy this dress on your site………..its black and white stripe maxi, with long sleeves and has a slit opening across the chest area, there were a beautiful lady wearing it I think , it was one your followers had to vote on for something. relate this info as soon as possible I know my curves can rock that dress as good as the model was rocking it.
    my email is nubianqueen41524@bellsouth.net

    • http://thecurvyfashionista.mariedenee.com Marie Denee

      I do nto sell clothes, I do feature and link them though to the site…

  • Kristen Otto

    There is always an option for great clothes in any price range.

    • http://thecurvyfashionista.mariedenee.com Marie Denee

      :D XOXOXO

  • Pingback: An Elegy For Eloquii - The Frustrating State Of Plus Size Fashion | Afrobella

  • LadyDay

    I didn’t see The Avenue. was there a reason you left them out. I like the Avenue as an option because they co up to a size 30/32.

    • http://thecurvyfashionista.mariedenee.com Marie Denee

      I am not sure what you mean here, I only gave a few as examples, I surely did not list all the brands and designers here :D

  • http://wifeyjd.wordpress.com/ Lisa

    Thanks for this! I didn’t know about City Chic, but I’m bookmarking their site.

    • http://thecurvyfashionista.mariedenee.com Marie Denee

      Woot!

  • TJ

    That’s a very helpful overview for someone with minimal understanding of fashion. Many plus size consumers fall into that category precisely because we used to have so few options that many of these categories were simply irrelevant to us. I hear women complain all the time about higher priced items being shown on blogs or in editorials and I think it’s largely because we just aren’t used to having designer or even bridge/better options available to us.

    The reality is that just like the straight size market, plus size women have a variety of tastes and budgets. I may not be able to buy a $500 dress but many women can and will. They need the option just like straight size women. Furthermore, though I may not be able to run out and buy that dress, I still want to see it. I want to know what’s available to that I can work the trends into pieces that are in my price range. Besides, between coupon codes, snapping up sales, and being unafraid of the resale market, I have been able to buy some of these otherwise inaccessible designer and bridge pieces. I count on bloggers and fashion editors to put these lines on my radar however so please keep showing us a full range of options!

    Only a few years ago it wasn’t uncommon to see plus size celebrities walking around at events in a dress you had at home because the selection was so limited that we all had the same stuff. There really was no upper end in the plus market, so even rich fat women wore the same stuff that I could occasionally afford. It’s getting better though, slowly but surely. The plus size fashion pyramid is still flatter than the straight size one (I’m still not aware of much that could be called plus couture) but we have more options than ever before allowing plus sized women to diversify their fashion interests just like everyone else.

    • http://thecurvyfashionista.mariedenee.com Marie Denee

      Xoxoxoxoxo

  • http://www.abbeypost.com/ AbbeyPost

    Fantastic overview, thank you so much for writing it. Believe it or not, it’s not just shoppers who are unaware of the various options available today for Plus Size women. We talk to a lot of investors on a regular basis, and even to those who invest heavily in (and feel they understand) ecommerce and retail, “mall brands” are literally all that exist in their minds for this market. I’ll definitely be sharing your blog post with several of them!

    • http://thecurvyfashionista.mariedenee.com Marie Denee

      Yes, you are right… But I think in this case, starting with the shoppers is a great way to affect change from the inside out!

  • Z_Lauren_Z

    Thank you for this post.

    I am SICK TO DEATH of reading complaints about pricing in comment sections of blogs EVERY TIME a higher end designer piece is highlighted. And if I’m not reading about price complaints I’m reading about lack of quality option complaints . . . no wonder there are so few higher end options.

    Hello? Designers do market research and I’m sorry but if I was a higher end designer thinking about expanding in to the plus size market I wouldn’t do it based on all the crap I read.

    Hopefully this post will open up some eyes.

    • http://thecurvyfashionista.mariedenee.com Marie Denee

      Thank you!

  • sue rock

    To emerging designers – this information is invaluable. As they create their business plans and study their markets it essential to understand these classifications. To have taken the time to match up PLUS SIZE brands to these classification is a real god send.

    And the magic moment that you are hitting on is that we now actually have brands for each classification!! (and how wonderful is that!)

    Continue compiling, analyzing and collaborating on the growth of this industry – we are all benefitting from your information

    Sue Rock
    Designer
    Sue Rock Originals