It is evident that retailers are becoming more diverse and inclusive when it comes to their clothing lines and marketing campaigns. 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.
A higher demand
There has been a growing demand for plus size clothing in recent years, leading retailers to step-up and meet customer needs.
One study by PwC’s UK Plus Size Clothing Market Review 2017revealed 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.
Interest is not 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?
One factor is an increase in ‘body confidence’ among plus size customers. 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.
There has also been encouragement by retailers for customers who don’t fit into standard sizes to keep shopping with them. 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
Usually it’s the catwalk that sets the trends for the high street to follow. But, when it comes to plus size and diversity, it’s the high street brands that are taking the lead.
We have seen some changes in high fashion too. 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.
What effect has social media had?
Social media has had an influence on many industries, the fashion sector included.
On social media, unhappy customers can make their voices heard by many. If someone feels they are being under-represented by a brand, it’s likely there’s many others who agree.
The way that a business responds to negative comments also affects the brand’s image. 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.
It’s not just feedback that social media is used for though. Places like Instagram are supporting the popularity of plus-sized clothing by encouraging users to join in. 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.
Being inclusive of all customer needs is important online. 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.
As we can see, the movement has been made in the retail industry when it comes to being more inclusive — actively encouraging its customers to take part and have their say.
This article was created by plus size occasion wear retailer, QUIZ.