Twenty years ago (or even fifteen if we’re being honest) the sheer visibility and inclusion of plus size fashion and models into the mainstream was virtually unheard of. There are so many things to be proud of in terms of just how far we have come in the plus size fashion world, but as with anything, there is always room for improvement.
Thankfully, more and more plus size brands and retailers are extending sizes, producing more modern designs and featuring plus size models of various body types—this is a step in the right direction, but it’s certainly not the end of the road.
But as plus size fashion draws the eye of mainstream media, it is important that as we grow into a 24 billion industry via Statista, that plus size brands and retailers understand what we are still pining for and what we need, and to help, we have a few places where these brands can start!
Here are a few ways that Plus Size Brands & Retailers Can Knock it out of the Park
Give Us Diversity in Model Representation with Sizes, Shapes, and Race
For every celebratory plus size swimwear collection or plus size lingerie line, there is a plus size retailer that only favors plus size people who have an hourglass shape, while ignoring those with apple or pear physiques, for example. Plus size brands, Universal Standard and Kiyonna do a great job of showcasing a variety of plus size women.
ALSO, instead of adding sizes below 14, they should add sizes above a 3X to at least a 32 and feature more women of color and size to be the face of campaigns and clothing lines. Going to a 4X/5X should be the norm- not the exception.
Contrary to popular belief, we do love to get dressed, and some of us do not let our size dictate our style… but we need options!
Don’t be scared! Add Style Variety, Take Risks
It seems like when a trend is hot, some plus size brands and retailers will ride it until the seams fall off. Many plus size retailers design and sell the same styles repeatedly, including popular styles like bodycon dresses, cold-shoulder tops, slashed denim or bodysuits. While we love a great staple, we do need variety in style, color, and print.
You want to affect your bottom line? Head into each season with an outlook that strives to provide plus size customers with fashion forward clothing that celebrates all facets of the plus size silhouette and avoid operating in the extreme, i.e. clothing that is overly sexy or overly dowdy.
Give us structure, shape, innovative silhouettes and have a little fun with it! Do no water the style down. Paired with fuller plus size models, we can see how these items will look on us and will be inspired to buy.
Make Sure Mainstream PR Companies Know and Respect the Plus Size Experts That Exist
While it is nice for plus size fashion to be included in mainstream media, we default to the media that has built up the industry- the plus size media. The Curvy Fashionista happens to be one of the plus size media brands who has their finger on the pulse, but there are sooo many plus size blogs, influencers, and experts, that PR can engage and get to know.
This includes photographers, plus size stylists, creative directors, and beauty experts. These plus size industry experts exist and KNOW the market.
Additionally, listen to and collaborate with more plus size fashion bloggers, influencers, and media is a step in the right direction, as they often have their eyes to the pulse of what’s going on in the real world and know what we want—not what retailers *think* we need.
Be Present in Local and National Plus Size Events
Make your presence known in the New Year by getting out and supporting your local plus-size community. Attend local events, connect with influencers and bloggers within your area, while also supporting the bigger events on a national level. This is not only a great means of support, but it’s also an easy way to network if you are looking to collaborate with others.
You cannot assume that everyone knows your brand, where you are located, or if you even care about the community… Get out and say hi!
Build Relationships & Keep it 100
The growth of the plus size fashion industry is a revolution that continues to progress and companies are starting to pay attention to it more and more. Where plus size consumers see representation, a lot of brands see only dollar signs. And because of that, they use popular buzzwords like “size inclusive” when their offering is anything but.
Companies that employ this practice need to recognize that we see what they’re doing, we get the motivation for it and more importantly – we’re talking about it! We’re excellent at finding all the receipts and will not hesitate to spread the word when the sudden adoration seems manufactured because it in fact, is.
Invest In Marketing
The plus size market no longer works with an “If you build it, they will come” mentality. We have options. There is competition. There is noise. And if you think by just announcing you are here is all that you as a brand need to do, you will be mistaken. You will need to have a budget to reach influencers, media outlets, run ads, and build awareness and relationships.
This is especially true, if you are a straight size brand. The same launch budget you have created for straight sizes needs to be given to the plus size market- AND TIME.
YES, plus size social media managers exist. Yes, there are folks who understand how to market to the plus size customer. Yes, there are experts who know how to cut through the noise, to reach your target market- to drive and generate interest and excitement around your brand. BUT… You need a budget AND consistency.
One major launch push is not going to be enough… look at what White House Black Market and Old Navy recently did. You have to remember what and how Fashion Nova was in our face and on our necks about FN Plus. Or Shein’s constant drive to show and prove themselves. You cannot drop a push one time and think that that is enough… this no longer works.
We now have more options than ever before and if we as a plus size community want to keep it that way, we have to firmly, loudly and repeatedly demand what it is that we need more of… Right? Right.
Tell us, what do you think plus size retailers can do to make your shopping experience better? What are some of your favorite brands that always get it right?
Let us know in the comments!
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