Is The Future of The Fashion Market Curvy?

We need a realisation that plus-size is a new market segment, one that’s large and fashion-conscious.

June was the month for curvy women: the cover of Vogue generated media attention, bringing the subject of curves and how glamorous they can be to very many people’s attention. But the rescue of curviness, if we want to call it that, is not just a matter of glamour.

This phenomenon is no longer a minor social and economic one – it affects women, fashion labels, beauty, health and retailers. The third Full Figured Fashion Week was an opportunity to put the spotlight on the sale and distribution of plus-size fashion clothes. The event’s founder, Gwen DeVoe, spoke about it on and made a series of important points.

Starting from the fact that designers don’t often taken plus-size women into account and shops don’t respect them, DeVoe contradicted the common misconception that curvy women do not want to spend money on clothes. Rather, the problem is very often with the retail outlets: shops are not sufficiently welcoming or set up for a plus-size clientele. As well as the poor range, larger sizes are often relegated to small – almost hidden – areas. The fitting rooms are sometimes too small and the staff are not always able to give the right advice.

The plus-size market has moved online and many consumers have decided, out of necessity, to shop from their PCs, turning to brands that have a strategy of selling their lines of larger clothes exclusively via the web, like Gap, Old Navy, Ann Taylor, H&M or Banana Republic. But it’s a strategy that almost seems to say: we don’t want curvy women in our stores!

It’s time that that fashion business woke up to the fact that ever more women, consumers and fashionistas are US size 12 or above – this is an important slice of the market and one that is ever more demanding. Plus-size women do not simply want to clothe themselves: they want to be pampered, acknowledged and in fashion.