The plus-size clothing market is changing, and it’s hard to say if it’s for better or for worse. On November 13th, plus-size luxury e-tailer 11 Honoré (who stock Diane von Furstenberg, Jason Wu, Dolce & Gabbana and Christian Siriano in plus sizes) announced that it had secured $10 million in funding. One of those investors? Nordstrom. Unlike their other department store peers, Nordstrom is hoping to expand its size offerings, hoping to bridge that gap with 11 Honoré.
But it wasn’t the first (and only) clothing retailer that has made the push into high-end plus size fashion.
One of the firsts was Universal Standard, and its founder and chief creative officer, Alexandra Waldman. For years, plus-size shoppers had been asking for a fashion brand for something you’d think would be relatively simple: size-inclusive basics. Yet, until the brand came along, there wasn’t really anything on the market. The best part? The line was full of fashion-forward basics in sizes 10 to 28, which were considered chic and stylish.
However, this line was not cheap, with the average price of an item ranging from $50-200 USD.
For many when clothes range from around $60 to $275, it may not be accessible to all shoppers. The increased price of plus-size clothing has often been referred to as the “fat tax.” According to Business Insider, the “fat tax” is a difference in price between items made for those in the plus-sized community vs. those who are not.
But the Universal Standard team did two things: they tried to challenge consumers’ perception of what plus-size clothing is worth and of course, getting them to believe they are worth it. But they also tried to help provide a solution with their Fit Liberty program.
Through this program, customers were given the ability to buy for the size they were (at that moment) and exchange for another size, if it changed in the following months – for free. It was a radical offering, that many who were uncertain about committing to high-end luxury clothes could get on board with.
It also told customers who were interested in luxury clothes: yes, you’re worth it.
Marketing to plus-size individuals who are interested in high-end luxury brands has been notoriously difficult. The reason being is that some shoppers wanted to hide their bodies or didn’t want to commit to clothing, at a higher price tag, for fear of their bodies changing. But other Canadian fashion designers like Hilary MacMillan and Lesley Hampton, also want to change this.
When I spoke to Hilary MacMillan after her showing at Toronto Fashion Week this year, she mentioned that although she spent considerable time researching the plus market, she was open to talking to women trying the brand, and getting a sense of how the brand fits people’s body shapes. The pricing of her spring/summer collection ranges from $150-300 and fits up to a 6XL.
She is quick to recognize that there is a shift happening in the industry with the plus-size market, and wants to actually pay attention by speaking directly to her customers via social media and her showroom.
Historically speaking, luxury fashion has always been about exclusivity, but the size of the average women in North America is 14 and above.
It’s time for a change, and brands have no choice but to listen to consumer demand and start evolving. For so long, plus-size shoppers didn’t think high-quality experiences existed for them, but now they do.
In the last year, we have seen brands like Henning, And Comfort, Madewell, and Tamara Malas launch into the market to great success. There is clearly space and room for all these brands, now it’s about time to change the marketplace.
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What It’s Like To Shop For Plus-Size Clothing On Amazon
Why The Fashion Industry Is Still A Long Way From Being Size Inclusive
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