Plus-Size Fashion: Bigger is Better!

Thursday, September 9, 2010 | 5:43 PM

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The UK market for plus-size clothing in the UK has been getting larger and larger. A report by Mintel published last week announced that, in the last five years the market for plus-size womenswear (sizes 18+) has increased by 45% to £3.8bn in 2010 [1] . Comparing this to the 15% growth in the overall womenswear market should demonstrate the relative importance of the plus size industry. The growth in sales has been largely driven by the number of women who are overweight - Mintel predicted that almost a quarter of women in the UK (around 6.2 million people) are plus size and wear clothes in sizes 18 and over [1]. Demographic factors in the UK have also contributed to the rise in the plus size market; the number of women aged 45 and over in the UK is increasing as a result of the baby boom and these women are more likely than younger consumers to be overweight.

Keynote predicts that the UK market for plus-size clothing will grow by 15.2% between 2009 and 2013 [2], however, many retailers are still failing to match demand. With a third of men and women in the UK wearing XL clothes or bigger, retailers cannot ignore the consumers cry for clothing more representative of the overall population. Retailers need to change their offering to include the plus size industry and they must realize the growth potential of this market.

It is evident that the internet has a major role to play in the plus size industry. With very little high street retailers stocking plus size clothing as they are reluctant to take up display space with less-requested sizes, they are able to serve that market online where display space is not at a premium.

Source: Google internal data

Mintel stated that the value of the UK market had increased by 45% in the last five years, however, the number of online queries for plus size clothes alone increased by around 90% in the past four years [1].

Source: Google internal data

This chart shows the number of queries, clicks and CPC over the past 4 years for plus size clothing. The low long run CPC (CPC for plus size queries only grew by 2 times its original value in Jan 06) presents a perfect opportunity for online retailers to advertise plus size clothing at low cost whilst gaining a high number of clicks through queries. E-retailers need to take advantage of this opportunity quickly as more and more retailers are beginning to change their collections to accommodation bigger women. Marc Jacobs is rumored to be producing a line in size 14 and up. The designer Mark Fast also used size 12 and 14 models in his catwalk show in London Fashion week. Saks fifth avenue has added bigger sizes to its designer range whilst Harrods in the UK offers size 26 in some brands, but Selfridges still offers only up to size 16.

It is evident that the UK plus size market is not going to tighten its belt any time soon. Retailers must acknowledge this growth opportunity and begin to target the plus size consumers where they are found in abundance- the online market.

Source: Insights for Search

[1] Mintel, August 2010
[2] Keynote, April 2009


Simon said...

Now that is a lot of puns stuffed into one post...

It is not surprising that demand for plus size clothing is increasing - you only have to look around you when walking down the street.

If traditional retailers can't provide then its a great opportunity for online.