Having worked in the fashion industry as an account manager on the manufacturing side, it was a known fact that there were retail opportunities for plus-size clothing. Although a few retail stores dabbled in size 14 and up clothing, it was not a category that was going to see a lot of growth.
- Today the average North American woman is a size 16.
- One-third of Canadian women are considered plus-size (size 14 and up).
- 64% of American women are overweight. More than one-third is obese.
- Yet the total revenue in the women’s clothing industry for plus-size is 18%. That number has been fairly consistent for the past 25 years. Although in 2008 & 2009 that number reportedly dropped by about 9%.
- In Canadian cities, an average major mall of 160 stores may have two stores that specialize in larger sizes. With shopping malls in decline it’s only going to get worse.
- Some retailers are starting to add size 14 and up to their online stores but not in stores.
Since opening Consigning Women eight years ago, one of the most frequently asked questions is “Do you have plus-size?” We do get some plus sizes from our boutique partners, but rarely from the general public.
In 2012 we had a section in the store that was dedicated to size 14 and up. The ladies who asked us if we have plus-sized clothing did not return to the store, even after we explained that we are diligently trying to bring it in. Their frustrations are the reason they did not return. We ended up returning the clothing (gasp) to the original owners because it did not sell. This scenario has been replicated by other retailers as well.
You cannot blame the consignment stores as these stores do not purchase items. We consign merchandise from the general public which means we are dependent on what the public brings to us.
Ladies are keeping their size 14 and up fashion longer than most because it is difficult to find. Some will cross-border shop to purchase larger sizes because the U.S. has a larger population that warrants more selection than in Canada. However, the U.S. is also suffering from the same supply problems.
There is an online plus-size fashion community, a group of bloggers across North America who are generating plenty of buzz online and in the press. Some retailers have started to take notice while others have been slow to re-act. Anyone who has any business sense knows there’s an opportunity here to give the plus-size community the same shopping experience as the 0 to 12 size shopper.
What we do know. Handbags, jewelry, accessories and footwear will work for everyone at Consigning Women.
New York Times – Plus Size Wars
Globe & Mail – Hey retailers, where are the plus-size fashions?