Plus sizes seem to have always been fashion’s stepchild. Limited style selection coupled with lack of quality in fabric and construction details have made it challenging for ladies to find attractive clothing, especially for business. I experienced this first hand when working with a client whose client base was senior executives. She needed a wardrobe of quality, professional business clothes. I pre-shopped and found that Lafayette 148 in Salon Z at Saks had as a nice choice of styles. Although it was much more limited than other departments, we found the perfect suit, slacks, some tops and sweaters from the Eileen Fisher department to be worn as jackets. These items were of a quality that would last for several years and allow her to expand her choices by adding a few pieces each year.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the average American woman is 5 foot 4, weight 167 pounds and has a 37-inch waist. Plus-sized ladies comprise 65% to 70% of consumers. Why should two-thirds of the population be so overlooked? The good news is that changes are coming.
Changes are coming! Vogue recently featured Kate Upton on the cover, a model who is not plus-sized but is often shunned by the fashion industry as being larger than most. Vogue editor, Anna Wintour challenged the industry in an editorial, “if the high-fashion world seems incapable of figuring out what to do with her (the plus-sized lady) ….. then that’s its loss.”
In addition to Lafayette 148 and Eileen Fisher, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Johnny Was and Ellie Tahari are dipping their toes into the water. Fast growing vintage look retailer, ModCloth, is moving aggressively to capture this underserved market.
Ladies put on weight differently, making it a challenge to develop sizing that will accommodate different body shapes. But, there is a bright future for the plus-sized market. New designers are choosing to specialize in this vital market and more popular known designers are entering the field. Ladies will have much greater options of beautiful designs that show their curves. It is about time the plus-sized lady can be as fashionable as their model-sized counterparts.