A PLUS sized Market… But with a ONE Track (Labeled) Mind!
by AM, Fashion Managing Editor – Lawrence Pizzi
In the USA, the average female is a size 12/14 which is slightly too large to be a client of the famous designers from Seventh Avenue. Since the beginning of my fashion career, plus size (which is now called “Ladies”) has always been a large market that has yet been tapped into (promising to be a real gold mine). Having offered my collection from a “00” to a 46, I have been watching this sector and have been noticing many challenges and new changes emerging.
The FIT is and will always be a challenge in any market, but especially in larger body shapes. With about 26 different cultural female shapes, a no label/company can offer clothing to everybody. Within the “traditional ready-to-wear” market, there are 3 major categories – Petite, standard/regular, and Tall. This refers to the clients’ height, with the average Petite being 5’2”, standard 5’6”, and Tall, 5’10”. Within these 3 size ranges, the large numbers of females have settled into the fit that works best for their body types (meaning that most short waisted females purchase Petite garments even if they are well over 5’2”).
With no exact standard sizing in the USA, vanity sizing has won the hearts of clients – selling them garments that are a 6 but are labeled a size 4 or 2. This gives some hope to a true size 14, being able to fit into a size 12 garment. But the true fact in the plus market is… sizes 12 & 14 are well under the average plus shopper. One of the best Lady Size departments is Z Salon at Saks Fifth Ave, offer better garments that fit and flatter while being in style and on trend. Offering special runs from top high-end designers, they also offer the basics needed for work and every day living.
As the labels continue to learn and grow in this market, I want to focus on the consumer and her “Being” in the market. Many large ladies continue to demand that famous designers offer larger garments, and the companies will not. I can’t understand why someone would expect to venture into a new product when the company is thriving with the product they are already offering. And with my web surfing and mentoring, I have found and watched several Lady sized fashion companies come and go… and why? Because their clients refused to buy from them because they where not the high end labels they wanted. Well, the HIGHEND designers don’t want you!!! It’s time to start supporting the new labels/designers willing commit to the large market. And I am not talking about the Chinese sights that take a designers’ garment (retailing for $300) and offering it for $75… Using the original designer’s picture, but shipping you a sub-par product that will not be able to be returned (because they usually close down the site in 3 months).
In today’s business climate, a new label has 12 months to get momentum (meaning raising sales). 12 months of sales is being open and operating for at least 18 months, if not 24. And anyone with a business background will scream and gasp for air, because they are expecting sales within 24 hours of opening. But fashion is 4 to 8 months out from sales due to prototyping, sourcing, and component production lead time before they are all assembled under one roof (factory) and are all used and sewn into a garment (and this would take 2 weeks to 2 months).
I need to also vocalize the real fact that due to US corporate salary compensation, females are paid an average of 20% less then men, and then compound that with the appalling fact that overweight individuals earn 30% less then their thinner co-workers. This adds financial stress to a market that is expected to pay more because of the simple fact that the use of more materials is needed in producing larger garments.
This is only the first of several articles, as there is so much that I need to talk about…
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