Although consumers today are increasingly wearing plus sizes – meaning size 44 (16 UK or 18 US) or larger, plus sizes are still severely underrepresented in the fashion industry. Even though the plus size clothing market is estimated to be worth over €10.3 billion in 2022 and the video hosting service TikTok records 32 billion views for “plus size”, less than 1 percent of models wore the Fall/Winter 2023 Plus Size Fashion Weeks.
No wonder, then, that plus size consumers feel underrepresented in the fashion industry and that their needs in terms of different sizes, styles and fits are not taken into account. The wholesale platform Joor has therefore compiled the most common complaints from consumers in order to close this knowledge gap.
The fashion experts at Joor have evaluated the most viral TikTok videos on the subject and compiled the most common complaints from oversized consumers. The result was eight areas that cause the most trouble for plus size consumers.
1. Size range is too small
The most common complaint Joor found in this representative sample of consumers was that the size selection was too small. Clothing manufacturer Creative House UK believes that brands and retailers should expand their size range to 5XL or larger. Also, these sizes should be sold at the same price as other sizes.
“Fashion is for everyone and the plus size clothing market is a fast growing segment of the industry; brands need to see the big picture, both in terms of inclusion and profit,” says Joor.
2. More length and width does not equal oversize
When you lengthen and widen a regular straight-cut garment, you basically get a sack. But like any other body, plus size bodies are different and the different proportions must be considered.
“Everyone has a different style and body shape. So if you only style for one person, consumers can no longer feel confident about what they are wearing,” explains Joor.
3. One size for accessories
Brands and retailers may do a good job with their plus size collections, but then forget one important aspect – accessories! For this reason, one-size-fits-all accessories have been named as the third most important annoyance when shopping for plus-size fashion. Fashion companies should make sure they are inclusive when it comes to accessories too, expanding sizes for jewelry such as rings, as well as belts, shoes and other accessories.
4. Lack of style
A common complaint has also been that style and plus size are often portrayed as mutually exclusive. The focus is often on tried and tested items such as floral prints, figure-hugging clothing or outdated trends.
“To avoid this, brands should aim for coherent styles with other ranges, rather than creating a limited plus size selection and showing that trendy patterns are available for all sizes,” advises Joor.
5. Lack of digital shopping experiences
As a recent study shows, consumers expect digital technologies such as AI, AR and robots to enrich their shopping experience in the future, especially when shopping for clothes.
Virtual fitting rooms, smart mirrors and avatars that use augmented reality to show how a garment fits can alleviate common stressors for plus-size consumers.
6. No plus size models
It is not enough to just offer a wide range and plus sizes: these must also be marketed accordingly, with models in plus sizes. US women’s clothing store JessaKae and Indian underwear e-tailer Tailor and Circus not only use models of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities, but also real people with all their imperfections, which is highly appreciated by their customers.
7. Separate plus size collections
Plunkettresearch.com estimates that 68 percent of US women are over a size 14 (UK 16, EU 44), meaning they are considered “plus size”, which glamour.com says is an outdated term anyway. The best way for brands and retailers to avoid such alienation is to incorporate plus sizes into core collections.
8. Lack of authenticity
Last but not least, authenticity was cited as another key concern, and this includes being transparent about sizing and range and not misleading consumers.
Not just on this point, but in general, listening to what customers have to say and delving deeper into your audience is a great way to increase inclusivity and reach new customer groups.