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.
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!
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.
Plus Size Segmentation for Better Plus Size Fashion Options
Designer Plus Size Fashion
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
A “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 coordinates for our day-to-day lifestyle. Think Melissa Masse, Calvin Klein, and Jones New York and retailers like Navabi.
Contemporary Plus Size Fashion
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:
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
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!
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.