Pop stars and magazine covers can speak to America’s changing beauty standards all they want, but nothing speaks louder than money. When it comes to plus-size clothing, new data from the market firm The NPD Group suggests teenage girls today are buying more of it than ever.
The data, collected in NPD’s 2015 Women’s Special Sizes Study, shows consumers ages 13 to 17 buying more than twice as many plus-size clothes — sizes 18 and higher — as they did in 2010. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they’ve considered buying plus-size clothing for themselves, compared to 16 percent five years ago.
“What’s happened is, the market has finally caught up to the need of younger plus-sized consumers,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief retail industry analyst. “Now they’re offering them the opportunity to buy more without having to be creative and buying products outside of their size to try to make it work.”
The demand for plus-size fashion hasn’t changed so much as the industry’s interest and ability to meet that demand. As part of that changing mindset, American youth were more likely than any group surveyed to agree with statements like “brands design plus-size clothing as an afterthought” or “plus-size clothing should be offered in the same styles available for my smaller friends.”
Comparatively, petite and tall sizes showed moderate boosts — from 36 to 49 percent and 21 to 30 percent, respectively — over the past five years. More notable, however, was the shift in interest for junior-size clothing, from 85 percent to 73 percent. If anything, Cohen said, the shift demands an end to complacency for designers used to simple sizes.
“The plus-size consumer’s desire to be [treated] just like the traditional-size consumer is there, and the younger consumer particularly is there,” Cohen said. “Living in yesterday’s mindset doesn’t benefit the brand, or the customer, well.”
Joe Incollingo can be reached at email@example.com