Developing a Plus-Size Collection:
Fun Facts and Curvy Figures
No discussion about plus-size clothing would be complete without a few facts and curvy figures.
Check out this fact from Statista.com for starters: “Sizing in the U.S. varies between retailers and even individual items of clothing, but many retailers start plus-size clothing at size 12 or 14. The average U.S. women’s dress size is between 16 and 18, meaning that plus-size is the new average, although it is not typically thought of that way.”
Or try this on for size: Based on Plunkett Research data, 78.6% of American women are size 14 or larger.”
Which means if you’ve got an eye for designing plus-size clothing, there’s a very lucrative market just waiting for you to wow them with your collection!
Break The Rules!
There’s no category that has more outdated “rules” than clothing for a voluptuous customer. Don’t wear fitted clothing! No Maxi Dresses! No pencil skirts! Always wear black! Never wear white! No stripes or prints!
It’s not only mind-boggling and restrictive, but we contend that those “rules” should be thrown out the window immediately. A plus-size customer looks for the same things that every woman does; well-fitting, flattering garments with quality construction and thoughtful details. No more, no less.
Fit is Everything
Maybe more so in this category than any other, you must pay attention to fit. This is make-or-break time, so pay attention! The two things most critical to fit are:
- Identifying the right fit model. Plus-size models are in demand because, as we mentioned earlier, the vast majority of people, particularly women, are actually above the standard sizes demanded by the modeling industry.
That said, you need to find the one that truly represents the fit of your brand. There isn’t a real industry-wide definition that has been agreed upon, in terms of actual sizes and boundaries. The fashion industry helps us a little with the definition here, as according to the modeling agencies, curvy and plus-size models weigh between 161 and 205 pounds, are between 5’9’’ and 6’0’’ and wear a size 10/12 to 14/16.
But not just any woman with those qualifications will do; the definition of curvy is based on body measurement and the contrast between waist and hip size. Curvy fit models have a waist size to hip ratio of 0.75. So if your chosen model has a waist size of 34.5 inches or lower and a hip size of 46 inches, then she is within the range.
Once you have identified the fit model for your brand, don’t deviate. Your customer will want consistency in fit, and using the same model for every garment, every season will ensure that. Fit models are literally paid to not gain or lose weight, so you can feel completely comfortable choosing one and sticking with her over time.
- Choosing your Pattern Maker Wisely. Not just any run-of-the-mill pattern maker will do when you’re creating a plus size collection. Choose an experienced pattern maker; one that understands that a size eighteen person will have different fit concerns than a size two person.
There are certain details that your pattern maker should take into consideration when developing your patterns. Pocket placement (and size), the amount of ease within pleats, cuff size and depth, and proportion in general, are just the start.
You’ll find that there is a bit more size deviation between women within the plus size category than in other categories. Therefore, you always want to consider size-inclusive details like elastic waist band and adjustable details such as straps.
We suggest you also consider fabrics with a bit of stretch. There are quite a few beautiful and chic fabrics on the market that have a little “hidden” spandex woven in. Try having some of your samples sewn in a stretch fabric to see if it works for your collection.
Lastly, keep the lines of communication open with your pattern maker. The plus-size category has a lot of subjective issues; be sure to discuss them along the way. An expert plus-size pattern maker will be happy to provide advice and guidance.
Where is My Customer Hiding? The curvy customer is out there, just waiting for the attention of a talented designer such as you. In fact, they are probably the most under-served of all segments.
While it might be difficult to get a boutique buyer or owner to add a rack of plus-size garments to their inventory, don’t give up. Social media marketing will be your best route to success, and certainly more immediate than trying to find that one elusive boutique wanting to add a plus-size collection to their store.
Wanna try an experiment? Just type in “plus-size fashion” in the Instagram search bar and you’ll see that there are millions of women searching for you and your ideas!
In fact, because so few manufacturers have nailed the voluptuous customer’s needs, that customer will be the MOST loyal you’ll ever find. If your clothing makes her feel beautiful every time she puts it on, she’ll definitely be back for more.
At TEG we have pattern makers on staff that are experienced in the plus-size market. We’d love to talk about your collection in more detail. Feel free to reach out to us at https://tegintl.com/get-in-touch/ or call us at 800-916-0910.
For all inquiries and questions, please call or fill out the below form, and we will respond within 1-2 business days. Thank you!
Los Angeles: 800-916-0910 | San Francisco: 415-324-8779