When asked if they ever buy apparel considered to be in “special sizes,” teens revealed that they were purchasing more plus, petite and tall sizes and shifting away from the more “style-conscious” junior segment.

U.S. teens purchasing junior-size apparel dropped from 81 percent in 2012 to 73 percent in 2015, according to the latest research from The NPD Group Inc. Meanwhile, 34 percent of respondents aged 13 to 17 said they were buying plus sizes, which compares to 19 percent in 2012.

Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD, said, “Teens are reinvigorating the plus-size market.

“Today’s young consumers know what they want and won’t settle for less,” Cohen said. “This energy will turn up the volume at retail for the plus-size apparel market overall, which is important but sometimes overlooked.”

The NPD report noted that taken as a whole, plus-size shoppers desire “a wider variety of styles in their current wardrobe, with half of them wanting to buy apparel brands that make both regular and plus-sizes.”

But there’s a clear disconnect to what teens want and what the market offers – at least from their perspective. “Teens are most likely of all age groups to feel that ‘brands design plus-size clothing as an afterthought’ and ‘plus-size clothing should be offered in the same styles available for my smaller friends,'” the researchers said in the report.

For the juniors business, which NPD describes as “the largest of all teen special-size segments,” the shoppers are “more style-conscious consumers, as they have specific apparel likes and dislikes that set them apart from the other special size groups.”

However, the researchers noted that at the same time, juniors are also on a “limited budget.” NPD said juniors also “shop more frequently for tops and bottoms compared to other size groups. In contrast, plus-size women make the fewest shopping trips per year for bottoms compared to other size groups.”

Regarding tall sizes, NPD reported that 30 percent of teens are purchasing in the segment, which compares to 23 percent in 2012. And 49 percent of teens said they were purchasing petite sizes, which compares to 40 percent in 2012.

Cohen said a “one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for most clothing, and it doesn’t work for marketing to consumers either.”

“The junior-size and plus-size mind-sets are converging in the growing plus-size teen consumer segment, and it is just the beginning,” Cohen explained. “Addressing the distinct differences in the way we market to, and deliver product for, junior and plus-size consumers is the first step to maximizing the potential of the entire special-size apparel market.”

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