Plus Sized May Actually Be Real Sized

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Posted by peter88 from the Beauty category at 20 Jul 2011 10:48:01 pm.
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Thanks to rising obesity levels, doctors and health officials are warning individuals to slim down. But those embracing their current size still need to shop for clothing. Some retailers are realizing it could mean big business if they make a few tweaks for the "plus-sized"market.

It's hard to ignore the consensus that the general public is getting heavier. Doctors and other experts warn about obesity statistics and blame them on everything from sedentary lifestyles to the increased consumption of fast foods. Whatever the case behind the "growing" public, the fact remains that there are millions of average women out there who have to dress themselves. Unfortunately, many women find the offerings for the "plus-sized" market are not as diverse or as available as those for women who are smaller sizes.

The average American and Canadian woman wears a dress size between 12 and 14, yet these sizes are often in short supply for mainstream retailers. Also, larger sizes are often buried in the back of stores and labeled "plus" or "women's." This can make it off-putting for shoppers. Some shoppers feel the clothing should be renamed as "real size" -- considering the average size of shoppers -- or not given a different term at all.

According to reports published in Womens Wear Daily, the New York industry newspaper for all things fashion, despite size 14 being the average size for the American woman, it's actually the least purchased size for many manufacturers. Why does this occur? There are a number of theories.

Some believe that women who used to be a smaller size and have gained weight after a child or through aging may not be ready to accept that their size 8 or 10 is now a 12 or 14. Therefore, they settle for items that already exist in their wardrobes or opt for clothing with ambiguous sizes, like "large" or "extra-large." The size 14 jeans and tops are ignored.

Other hypotheses state that the relative style and availability of plus-sized clothing makes shopping for these items a cause of stress for women. Certain retailers do no carry sizes above a certain number. For example, when browsing online at Hollister Co., women can select pants and shorts sizes only up to 11. Women have to look elsewhere for clothing that can fit larger sizes. These stores may not be perceived as trendy or as current as others.

Cost is another big factor. Plus-size clothing typically costs more, whether it is purchased in a store that specializes in larger-sized clothes or a department store that offers a wide variety of sizes. That's because larger clothing requires more fabric and different manufacturing techniques. Machines that produce smaller sizes may not be able to accommodate larger sizes. Some of these manufacturing costs can be passed on to consumers. It's also a matter of supply and demand. Because the demand is high and the availability low, plus-sized retailers can essentially charge what they want.

According to a report by The New York Times, the standard clothing sizes are fitting fewer and fewer people and sales are declining as a result. From April 2009 to April 2010, the plus-size market increased 1.4 percent while overall women's apparel declined 0.8 percent, according to NPD, a market research group. Recognizing this, some clothing retailers are re-evaluating their plus-sized offerings, attempting to make them more available or more trendy.

Retail giant Target unveiled its Pure Energy line last summer, which offers contemporary styles for the plus-sized shoppers, and other retailers are thinking about whether they should switch plus-sized clothing from being only available online to being back in retail spaces.
Although the plus-sized market has been around for some time, mass-market retailers are still slow to realize the buying potential of these underserved customers.
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