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The Plus Size Fashion Industry Reports 17.5 Billion in Sales And I Have Questions  

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The Plus Size Fashion Industry Reports 17.5 Billion in Sales And I Have Questions  It has been a while since I have written about this. A while since I have addressed the industry, the market, and the community. A lot has changed since I shared my 12 reasons why the plus size industry has room to grow, my talk about the shift in the plus size industry, whether or not we were taking two steps forward or back with plus size models, the design elements in plus size clothing that KILL ME, or when I asked or shared my 15 questions for the plus size fashion industry.

So when The NPD Group released its newest numbers for the plus size industry, I was not surprised but a bit irritated- honestly. I mean, the numbers do not lie. The plus size industry generated $17.5 billion in the 12 months ending April 2014.

Let me say that once more.

The Plus Size Fashion Industry Generated $17.5 billion in the 12 Months Ending April 2014

Yet, we are over here scratching our head as to why retailers are NOT giving square footage. Why brands are NOT including plus size models alongside their straight size counterparts, why brands are secretly dating us- not giving ANY mention or use of plus size on their sites, but that are all over the department store sites.

“Retailers and designers are now viewing this area as a growth opportunity, and today there are indeed more plus-sized choices in stores,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group.

So today, I have more questions or thoughts about the plus size industry and I invite you to share your thoughts and possible answers! Are you ready?

10 Questions For the Plus Size Fashion Industry

  1. Why won’t retailers who sell solely online give us variety and diversity of models? We cannot shop your in-store options, so give us size 14s, 16s, and if you are so bold, an 18 with visually ample curves?
  2. 17.5 billion. That is a huge opp and piece of the pie to dip into. Why are you leaving money on the table? We have already proved the industry to be viable and profitable!
  3. To the designers who only sell to department stores, why do you NOT have your PLUS SIZE range on your own site? Don’t you realize that this only strengthens your brand and dedication to the shopper? Allows her the chance to get to know you, your message, and your aesthetic? Brand experience?
  4. Certain “plus size models” are denouncing the fact that they are plus size models, all while taking the checks of these plus size brands. Brands- WHY ARE YOU STILL USING THEM? If they do not identify with the consumer, why are you still using them?
  5. With the end of Full Figured Fashion Week, the chance for new designers and retailers to do more is upon us. Will you continue to step up and make bold statements? Invest into the community that supports and represents you?
  6. To the department store buyers- WHY ARE YOU BEING SAFE with your plus size fashion buys? Stop watering down designers who dare give us bold colors, silhouettes, and price points. Stop thinking we are an industry in transition (read: losing weight). This frame of thinking only perpetuates a negative and false cycle and image of who the plus size woman is. Which leads me to…
  7. Give me thy floor space. Merchandised and pretty. Why do you think that we do not want the experience? When you stuff me in the back, completely ignore me, or present me as an afterthought, why do you think I would shop from you? All you do is set up the department up for failure- then pointing to low sales and numbers as part of the problem. NO. YOU are part of the problem, with lackluster marketing, merchandising, and staff education. Get it together.
  8. These international brands are giving the US plus size brands a run for their money. Are you going to let yourself be upstaged? They are giving us what we want- fashion and fast. Ranging in styles, price points, and offerings, these plus size retailers and designers are giving it. Why aren’t you seeing this and making the needed changes?
  9. To the plus size shopper: Why do you think that every brand is for every one? There is now diversity and variety. Not every designer is going to cater to your tastes and personal needs. And this is okay. THIS is how it is in mainstream fashion. When you start to berate or complain brands notice and do the opposite of what we ask. The best way to affect change? With your pocketbook. Buy and support those who speak to your tastes!
  10. In this growth, we are seeing an influx of online retailers and designers, but where are those in store opps? Ashley Stewart AND Lane Bryant have closed doors- City Chic just entered into the US market via LA. But for those department stores who could really lead the charge- you have no problem taking our dollars online- why not extend this in stores? At least your bigger doors?

As you can see, I have a lot of thoughts about this and I could probably go on and on. But in this particular space and place, I feel that there is still so much $$ left on the table here. Brands that lead the pack are losing steam but aren’t adapting fast enough…

I am curious about your thoughts of what I shared, your answers, and the stats that show were are a viable industry…

There is so much more to add, but right now, let’s hear from you! Sound off!

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Written by Marie Denee

I am the Editor in Chic of The Curvy Fashionista. Often goofy. Forever emo. Always a Virgo. You can find me somewhere grooving to 90s R&B.

What do you think?


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  1. I suppose I am most sick of being focused to go online and pay shipping or spend massive amounts of money at an online store. Most online shops dont have 50 dollars worth of merch that I “really gotta have.” So I am left to hunt department stores…what a nightmare. I can either only find that cute dress in black, or only find that cute dress in a 16. There has got to be a better way. Thank you for the article. I completely agree with your point.

    • Yo know SJ, yesssssssssss. Like Old Navy, Target, and many other box and department stores that refuse to carry or cater to me in store. the willful ignorance of who the plus size shopper is will only hurt them in the long run!

  2. As a shopper, I once getting frustrated with the sizes available in store. Since 3 years ago I stop complaining and do more hunting. Quite often I must redesign the clothes I bought to match my style. Long search until I found 3 online shops that sell plus size clothes. I don’t care with brands anymore, I care more about my convenience. I don’t care about media that still promote size 2-8 anymore. I don’t care about brands because sometimes I found jewels with good price among brands.

    So my point is, brand is not important. The ability to find something that suits you and comfortable, that’s what matter the most.

      • I found online shops in Facebook. Those shops provide plus size with cheap price, starts from USD 2 to USD 30, depends on the type of clothes.

        Usually I redesign long dresses. I love the color or model but too “granny” to me so I change it to mini dresses. I’ll show you one day if I have the occasion to wear it hehehe

  3. I love this article and I would love to have these questions answered. A couple of years ago i wrote something similar but not as detailed. I think that the industry is obviously big business but it is broken and in disarray. We have to fix the attitude and mindset of people because society still frowns on plus size individuals. They are too afraid that acknowledging our presence as if that means that they are accepting a lifestyle that is wrong or that they don’t approve of (as if we need your approval).

    I think that it is sad that with all the revenue that our sales generate, we still are not represented properly. There should be far more size diversity in terms of mannequins, clothing, and models. As an advocate for all women, my question is, why aren’t extended plus size women represented? Why aren’t curvy (really really curvy) women represented? Do they no need clothing? Does society assume they will disappear if they ignore them? I need to understand!!!!! As with any woman, those women want to be represented too.

    To me the use of smaller models for plus size brands, is a slap in the face. Why on earth would you think that having a woman half my size modeling something would make me want to purchase it. If you don’t consider yourself plus size, stay over there with that…….. I don’t need you showing me how to wear my clothes.

    • Well I think if you look at the mainstream fashion, it is the same there… the push back that we ask for is someone who actually wears the clothes that are being modeled… heck, getting a straight sized model over a four for a brand is a challenge, so while we are hitting certain walls of frustration, we are starting to also feel the pushbacks that mainstream is as well… we just want MORE diversity like you shared!! 😀

  4. Next time you do a post like this, name the worst offenders and give their people a chance to respond. I’m afraid that none of the manufacturers or department stores think they have a problem – we must be complaining about someone else.

  5. There is nothing more frustrating for me than walking into a department store and seeing the plus sized offerings be shoved in a corner. Some stores make me feel like the ugly step sister with their ugly colors, poor fit, and poor upkeep of the section. I haven’t been motivated to spend my money in certain stores in months, if not years. As a budding fashionista I want more. I want my friends to have more. I dare brands to truly embrace us.

  6. $17.5 BILLION?!?!?! C’mon son…now you’re just acting against your own self-interest. If I were a corporate shareholder, I would sue you for violating your fiduciary duty *lol*

  7. I am fed up with being forced to do the majority of my shopping online, and even though I live in a big city (Birmingham UK) there is so little choice actually in the stores themselves. Those that do have a plus size section actually on the shop floor tend to shove it in a dark dank corner like a guilty secret and then it is filled with clothes I just don’t want. It seems that although big and brilliant advances have been made there is still a long way to go!

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