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Brief Published: 3 Sep 2021

Closing the Plus-Size Gap: Initiatives Back Inclusivity

Old Navy

Anticipated to reach $32.3bn in the US this year (Coresight Research, 2019), the plus-size womenswear market is an increasingly lucrative category. Now, thanks to changing societal perceptions and burgeoning demand, brands are rethinking their approaches to this sector to better engage with the modern plus-size woman.

US clothing giant Old Navy will increase its range up to a US women’s size 30. The brand will no longer have separate ‘plus’ and ‘regular’ lines, neither in its store layouts nor in terms of labelling. Mannequins in sizes 4, 12 and 18 will be placed in-store, mirroring the sizes of models the brand will use in its future campaigns.

This is a pioneering move from Old Navy and means that consumers won’t feel ostracised when shopping, finding themselves reflected in regular product categories and campaigns instead. 

Elsewhere, British model Paloma Elsesser has teamed up with size-inclusive New York swimwear brand Dos Swim on a collection that aims to empower under-represented body shapes through inclusive campaigns and messaging, as well as ensure the products themselves are designed in the best way for plus-size people, making them feel confident and comfortable.

Dos Swim
What Lo Wants
Dos Swim

Currently, China’s rapidly growing fast-fashion e-tailer Shein is reported to be the most size-inclusive brand in the UK. As a new independent brand, American influencer Lauren Gray’s What Lo Wants began making clothes up to a US size 36 right from its launch. Not taking this consumer segment seriously runs the risk of alienating a significant percentage of the population and losing out on an extremely profitable market.

There are still major gaps in this market, however – specifically in menswear (see The Menswear Gap for more) – so consider how your brand can best tap into this thriving category. For more insights, see Fashioning Inclusivity, and keep an eye out for our Inclusive Brands to Know report, publishing in October.