It’s no secret that fashion retailers have taken action to encourage more people to get involved with their brand. From adding a maternity section to their collections, to tall and petite clothing ranges becoming more common, brands appear to be accommodating for all sizes and shapes.
The latest demand
There’s a reason behind retailers becoming more inclusive — the growing demand for non-standard sizes.
PwC’s UK Plus Size Clothing Market Review 2017 showed that the plus size market is worth around £6.6bn in 2017 (of which women and men make up £4.7bn and £1.9bn respectively). In fact, the market has been outperforming the overall womenswear and menswear clothing market in the UK — demonstrating the increase in industry interest.
This growth isn’t expected to slow either. In their report, PwC forecast growth of the plus size segment to be around 5-6% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) from 2017 to 2022. What is leading this growth?
Brands are encouraging a body confidence movement too among consumers. This is driven by brands and plus size influencers engaging with customers and encouraging them to embrace their curves and love their body. Online shopping is driving the market too. PwC identified that plus size consumers have a greater preference for purchasing clothes over the internet and the rise of ecommerce has caused this market to thrive further.
Other customers who do not fit into the standard sizes are being encouraged to go clothes shopping. This has paved the way for ranges such as; wide-fit shoes, tall, petite and maternity. Although it’s predominantly in the womenswear market at the minute, some retailers have released male plus size and tall ranges too.
Changes in high fashion
In terms of who set the trends, its usually high-fashion designers who start the trends. But, when it comes to plus size and diversity, it’s the high street brands that are taking the lead.
We have seen change on the catwalk too though. In fact, at SS18 shows, there was a record of 93 plus-size/curve model appearances and 45 transgender castings. There was more inclusion when it came to age too, as 27 models over the age of 50 walked the runways.
The effect of social media
Social media is also having an impact on inclusive shopping too.
It’s now easier than ever for dissatisfied customers to get their voice heard. This is especially if they feel that they’re being under- or unrepresented by a company — this is then often supported by internet users who feel the same way.
Comments made by unhappy customers on a company’s website or social media page can be damaging. Arguably, the way a business deals with an online complaint is more important than how they deal with one in-store, as it’s on a public platform for all to see. To avoid this destructive cycle, brands must be considerate of all their users.
Brands and influencers on Instagram are also leading to the growth of plus-size through encouraging user-generated content. In the fashion world, a consumer simply needs to look through ‘tags’ of a brand or search for images that have been hashtagged with a retailer’s name to see pictures of people wearing their clothes. This allows buyers to see the products on ‘real’ people rather than models from the adverts. This again encourages people who are not a ‘standard’ size to purchase new clothes — motivated perhaps by a photograph of someone who is a similar size to them in the same garment. Many fashion retailers encourage their customers to do this by offering them the chance to feature on the page if they use their hashtag.
Brands are changing the way that they market themselves too through the promotion of body confidence campaigns. Some brands have avoided photoshopping stretch marks, cellulite and other ‘imperfections’ that are usually edited out of marketing images in fashion. This again encourages people to get involved and purchase clothing from that brands, resonating more with real models.
Bringing all of this together, we can see that the retail industry has come a long way when it comes to being more inclusive, encouraging everyone to get involved in shopping and the fashion world.
Research for this article was carried out by QUIZ UK, retailers of plus-size tops.