Is curvy the new black?
The action on the plus-size front doesn’t seem to be letting up. With nearly 70 percent of women in the U.S., size 14 and larger, the market continues to expand with new players, celebrities and web sites.
In the last few months alone, La La Anthony has launched a plus-size capsule with Ashley Stewart; Jason Wu released a plus-size collection for Eloquii; costume designer Janie Bryant introduced JBX by Janie Bryant, a plus-size collection for the web, and even comedian Amy Schumer, along with her personal stylist and costume designer Leesa Evans, is offering up a ready-to-wear line called Le Cloud that ranges from size 0 to size 20 for Saks Off 5th. Serena Williams has also entered the plus-size fray, serving up a new collection called Serena Williams Great, which is available up to size 3X. The line includes leggings, hooded sweatshirts, midi-dresses, utility pants, pencil skirts, logo T-shirts, sweaters and sequin pencil skirts, and is available on serenawilliams.com. Prices range from $40 to $175.
The numbers clearly show a market that’s worth paying attention to.
In the 12 months ending November, 2018, U.S. dollar sales of women’s plus-size apparel were $20.5 billion, the same levels as the prior year, according to The NPD Group/Consumer Tracking Service. The numbers include plus/full figure, petite plus and junior plus.
According to Marshal Cohen, chief industry adviser of The NPD Group, “The plus-size market has been like a pendulum in the past decade. Sometimes it gets a lot of attention and sometimes the pendulum swings the other way and retailers and designers focus elsewhere. These days the pendulum has clearly swung towards attention, with some new players making a mark in a market that is posed for growth. Even the lower end retailers have ramped up their game, with new branding at places like Target, which introduced a new program —Ava & Viv.”
“Soon-to-be released data from the U.S. government will show women in the U.S. are gaining weight again and more women are entering the plus-size market. Add that to the already estimated 32 percent of women that state they wear a plus size on top, on bottom, or both and we have an opportunity for a growth market. Now add in yet another factor that these women want fashion just as much as traditional-size women and the market opportunity is blooming right in front of our eyes,” Cohen added.
In conversations with the designers, they see a vast market for their products and immediate gratification from plus-size customers who crave fashionable pieces for their wardrobes.
“I just feel like the curvy woman wants to feel sexy and beautiful and not feel that their style or quality is being compromised because it’s a bigger size,” said La La Anthony.
Size-inclusive luxury retailer 11 Honoré is adding more designers to their lineup and doing different types of activations to drum up interest, such as a tie-in with Christian Siriano’s The Curated NYC. The pop-up shop, which was open from Nov. 30 to Dec. 30, featured styles in sizes 12 to 24 from designers such as Brandon Maxwell, La Ligne, Prabal Gurung, Sally LaPointe, and Victor Glemaud. Customers also had the option to order custom Christian Siriano pieces.
Patrick Herning, founder of 11 Honoré said late last month, “It’s been performing well. We are excited about our time there and look forward to popping up downtown in the new year.”
Going forward, Herning said the first quarter is very much about the awards season and the web site recently hosted a breakfast with stylist Elizabeth Stewart for that purpose. “We really want to be a really strong referral source for red carpet dressing for awards season,” he said. He noted that when 11 Honoré began in August, 2017, they had 15 designers. Today, there are 80 designers on the site, ranging from Brandon Maxwell to Monique Lhuillier to Reem Acra.
Alexandra Waldman, cofounder and creative director of Universal Standard, the apparel and accessories brand that started as plus-size but is now size-inclusive, said, “We believe that 2019 will be about desegregating the fashion industry and giving every woman the opportunity to participate in beautifully made, modern clothing — regardless of size. In 2019, the company will be offering its entire collection in the fullest size spectrum in the world 00–40,” she said. They’ve already started with their foundations collection, and their entire denim line is next. “By May, it will be everything,” said Waldman.