The plus size fashion industry is a $20 billion dollar industry that is underserved. The buying power of the plus-size market grew 17% between 2013-2016. 67% of adult women wear a size 14 or higher and designers only offer sizes up to 10 or 12.
Part of the reason why the market is underserved is because it is difficult to scale a design to fit plus-size people. The variations in body size and shape are greater for plus-size women than missy-sized women. Therefore, designers have to cut new patterns to fit plus-size women. Also, there is a stigma around designing for plus-size women in that designers think it is bad for the brand. (Source: https://media.thinknum.com/articles/plus-size-fashion/ )
This article tackles the question: Do plus-size people spend less on clothing and footwear? This gets at whether there is a market for plus-size clothing. The quick answer is that overweight people do not spend less on clothing and footwear. The more nuanced answer is that obese people do spend less on clothing and footwear. People who are of normal weight and those that are underweight spend more on clothing and footwear.
This article presents evidence on the spending habits of plus-size people. Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that gives data on personal consumption per capita on clothing and footwear by year and state and data from the Center for Disease Control that gives data on underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese people by year and state, I try to get at the question of whether plus-size people spend less on clothing and footwear.
I use a regression analysis, which predicts how much a one-percent increase in overweight people impacts spending on clothing and footwear, to untangle the relationship between weight and spending. Because weight and obesity can be correlated with income and other demographics, I control for gender, education, age, and income. I also control for year to capture changes in the economic and social environment.
Figure 1, below, summarizes the findings. First, a one-percentage point increase in underweight leads to a $74 increase in spending on clothing and footwear. This is a statistically significant increase. Next, a one-percentage point increase in normal weight, leads to a $24 increase in spending. This increase is also statistically significant. Third, a one-percentage point increase in overweight leads to a $1 increase in spending. However, this increase is not only small in magnitude, it is also highly insignificant. This means that it is highly probable that the increase is due to chance. Finally, a one-percentage point increase in obese leads to a $22 decrease in spending on clothing and footwear. This finding is highly significant.
|Figure 1. Impact of Underweight, Normal Weight, Overweight and Obese on Per Capita Spending on Clothing and Footwear|
This short analysis says that the less people weigh, the more they spend on clothing and footwear. Also, overweight people do not spend less on clothing and footwear. Obese people do, but not overweight people. This plus-size population has willingness to spend and the designers would do well to cater to this group of people.