When some of us go shopping, we tend to take the clothes’ sizes for granted. Sure, you see a dress you like, fit it, and if it feels a bit too snug or a bit loose, you ask for another size, assuming it is available. So why shouldn’t plus-sized women expect the same?
There are many factors why retailers do not offer plus-sized clothing. One is expense. Technically, more fabric is needed to create plus sized clothing. Aside from getting less number of clothes out of a roll of fabric, creating plus sized clothing is harder, too. For instance, more fabric is used to create plus size evening dresses than it is to create gowns for petites. Aside from this, the stitching must be heavier to accommodate stronger seams. This is the reason why curvier women are having a hard time looking for affordable plus size evening dresses.
Another is storage. Plus sized garments take more space than smaller sizes. On the display window, sometimes a plus size evening dress may take up more space than smaller sized ones. Display windows have limited space and a store owner would want to display as much of his merchandise as he could. Same goes in the storage room where stocks are normally shelved. Racks can only hold a specific amount of weight, and larger pieces of clothing tend to be heavier. This means that racks can only hold a small number of plus-sized pieces compared to smaller pieces, given the same weight. What more if we want to stock plus sizes evening dresses?
Designing for plus sized women is difficult, too, as plus sized women are not built the same way. Some have fat distributed equally on all parts of the body while some only have large chests, abdomens, hips or thighs.
But given these set of scenarios, is it right for the plus-sized consumer to pay more for the same article of clothing bought by her less-curvier counterpart? Some people think that two identical items should cost the same regardless of the difference in size. Others think that the smaller sized crowd is actually paying for the extra expense incurred by the plus sized clothing when the price is centralized, so they push for having the amount different for plus size.
Faced with this scenario, many retailers opt to create a separate line of clothing specially made for plus-sized women. Retailers recognize the opportunity presented by the growing number of plus-sized women with money to spend on shopping but are having issues – both operation and financial – with regard to combining smaller sized items with plus size. Forever 21, a popular brand catering to teenagers and young professionals, created a separate brand for the curvier crowd called Faith 21. Department stores went the same route as well by creating a separate brand called Salon Z, carrying high end designer labels catering to the heavier crowd.
It would take quite a while for mainstream retailers to include plus sizes in their stocks on a daily basis instead of referring to them as “special sizes” but what is important is that designers are now creating more clothes for heavier women so visiting plus-sized stores is worth a try. It’s a slow journey but we’re getting there.