Stylish clothing for women size 14 and up is a growth industry.
By Rieva Lesonsky
We’ve talked frequently about plus-size clothing—and how there’s still an unmet demand for fashionable clothes in this size range. Well, according to a recent newsletter from JWT Intelligence, a new study reports the average American woman is between a size 16 and 18, up from size 14. And as a size 16 myself, I can tell you fashionable, yet affordable clothing choices are still a bit limited.
To help drive the point home to clothing manufacturers and designers, popular fashion and lifestyle blog Refinery29 has launched The 67% Project, pointing out that while 67 percent of American women wear a size 14 and up, fewer than 2 percent of fashion images feature plus-size models.
The site vows to feature more of these “reality-sized” women on their blog and has teamed up with Getty Images to “produce a collection of stock imagery featuring women of all shapes and sizes.”
“Plus-size women are not a niche, but the norm,” say Refinery29 editor-in-chief and cofounder Christene Barberich. The numbers back her up—according to JWT Intelligence, there are 100 million plus-sized women in the U.S., who will spend about $20 billion this year on clothes. And, JWT adds, “Sales of women’s plus-sized apparel have risen faster than the rest of the market since 2013.”
While more national retailers have added reality-sized clothing recently, fashion industry icon Tim Gunn recently wrote in The Washington Post, “These…were very much the exception, not the rule.” There’s still a lot of opportunity for entrepreneurs, especially retailers and e-tailers, to jump on the reality-sized bandwagon.