retailer selling plus size jeans

A Plus-Size Transformation in the Apparel Industry

We recently wrote about how the plus-size apparel industry was on the verge of a revolution, a prediction that has been validated by the industry’s tremendous sales growth.

In the year ending April 2014, sales of plus-size clothing came in at $17.5 billion – a jump of 5% from the year prior.

Specifically, plus-size apparel sales increased 9% for women 55 to 64, 23% for women 18 to 24 and 11% for women 25 to 34.

Much of this growth has come from the web, with one particular retailer making big waves.

After realizing that their plus-size garments were being purchased 20% more than any other section, Modcloth commissioned a study of 1,500 U.S. women between the ages of 18 and 44 to find out more about the prevalence of plus-size shoppers in America.

The online retailer has been ramping up their plus-size offerings for the past year and to celebrate the initiative’s one year anniversary, the e-store released the details of the study.

The survey found that more U.S. women report wearing size 16 than a size 0, 2 and 4 combined. And 88% of plus-size women said they would spend more on apparel if more trendy options were available in their size.

To Modcloth, investing in plus-size fashion is the way of the future and it’s time to either get with it or get left behind – which is exactly why they are now working with more than 160 vendors to create high-quality, plus-size clothing. The retailer expects sales to double in 2014.

However, despite the fact that the plus-size apparel segment is terribly underserved, and has a tremendous amount of buying power, the majority of designers and brands aren’t capitalizing on this business opportunity.

The Bottom Line:

The revolution in the plus-size clothing market is upon us and will only continue to become an even more powerful force in the fashion and apparel industry.

As this segment grows, it’s going to be imperative for retailers to adapt their business models in order to cater to plus-size shoppers. But, success in the plus-size apparel market will ultimately require a deep understanding of who your current and potential customers are as well as a solid real estate and marketing strategy.

While those fundamental steps can be daunting and challenging at first, they are critical – because those who can shape their businesses early and in the right way will enter the segment with a competitive edge and generate interest from an entirely new customer base.

Although adding plus-size options could be an incredibly beneficial growth move, many retailers fear the uncertainty and risk involved with entering a new market. While this fear isn’t unfounded, the decision to enter this new space can be made easier.

By using customer data and analytics, it’s possible to forecast exactly what your potential is in this new market – essentially eliminating the guesswork.

Based on your current best customer profile, Buxton’s customer analytic solutions can tell you exactly who your best prospective plus-size customer is, what trade areas have the highest concentrations of those potential customers and what markets are best for launching a new plus-size concept or product line.

If you’re interested in learning more and exploring this growth avenue, download our latest report “The Pocket Guide to the Apparel Industry” or reach out to us. We can help.

Journey Awareness Persona C-Suite/Finance Retail