Nearly 70 percent of women in the U.S. wear a size 14 or above. Why, then, do these shoppers make up only about 16 percent of total apparel sales, according to market research firm NPD Group?
It comes down to options — particularly, a lack of options in stores that cater to this group. Meanwhile, 78 percent said they’d be willing to spend more on clothing if more designers offered something in their sizes, reports a recent study by plus-size startup Dia & Co, which surveyed 1,500 women who wear sizes 14 and up.
At last, the fashion industry may be wising up to this disparity, as well as the money that could be made for brands that address it with more choices for more sizes. At New York Fashion Week last month, plus-size clothing had its strongest showing on the runway in recent memory — or maybe ever.
Here are five ways plus-size style stole the show, with some nods to the designers who helped make it happen.
1. “A banner season for body diversity”: For the first time in New York Fashion Week history, plus-size models walked in 12 shows, with a total of 90 being cast, according to the FashionSpot’s biannual Diversity Report. That’s up from 26 models last season and 16 last fall. At the February 2016 shows, just four were featured.
2. Sharing the runway: Several noted designers had a mix of straight and plus-size models walk in their shows. Christian Siriano included 10 curvy models in his cast — it was the most for a show not entirely devoted to full-figured fashions. Chromat, Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung, Tracy Reese, Tome, Eckhaus Latta and Anna Sui were others who followed suit.
3. Exclusive shows: Two shows at New York Fashion Week were devoted to plus-size style. Canadian brand Addition Elle, whose motto is “style isn’t limited by size,” unveiled a see now/buy now collection of relaxed bombers, shirtdresses accented with corset belts, striking lace eveningwear and sparkly sheath dresses. Supermodel Ashley Graham also debuted her latest lingerie pieces for the brand Torrid, which serves sizes 10 to 30, with a mix of edgy looks (black bodycon dresses, dark denim, netted layering pieces, etc.) and playful florals.
4. Speaking up: Lauren Chan, an editor at Glamour magazine and former model represented by Ford, modeled a red halter-style swimsuit with white piping for the swim and sport brand Chromat. But when she was bombarded with body-shaming comments, mostly from men, she said on social media that she didn’t shy from the limelight. “My whole body of work as an editor is focused on redefining the social norms about size and on making women feel valued no matter what they look like. Period,” she wrote as part of her response on Instagram. Glamour also sounded off with more supportive comments.
5. Conference call: While runway shows unfolded across Manhattan, the CurvyCon conference brought together some of the industry’s leading brands, stylists, bloggers, media personalities and more for a body-positive experience, complete with shopping, fitness sessions and panels. Homegrown ModCloth was on site to share its wide selection of styles in a range of sizes.