It’s a Plus-Size Fashion Revolution

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Retailers are finally getting serious about stylish clothing for larger women. Here's what's behind the change.

There’s a seismic shift happening in the fashion industry, and it’s being driven by fashion-forward plus-size women.

Once limited to long, boxy shirts or dresses and elastic-waist pants designed to hide the curves and shape of the wearer, plus-size women’s clothing is getting a much-needed new look and fit, and some retailers are beginning to take notice, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

“Spurred by online retailers, social media and celebrities like [Melissa] McCarthy, larger sizes are gaining acceptance and visibility,” Bloomberg said.

It’s about time, especially when you consider that on average, American women weigh about 166 pounds and wear a size 14.

According to Bloomberg, 65 percent of American women today shop for plus-size clothing. It’s a $19.9 billion market. So ignoring larger-size fashion could be a costly mistake for retailers, many of whom have offered limited, if any, plus-size clothing options in the past.

“As retailers are looking for growth, they’d be hard-pressed not to consider this customer,” Mariah Chase, chief executive officer of Eloquii, an online fast-fashion retailer of plus-size clothing, told Bloomberg. “There’s buying power,” she added.

McCarthy, an actress and comedian, recently started her own clothing line, Melissa McCarthy Seven7, which comes in sizes 4 through 28. McCarthy’s clothes are sold at Nordstrom, Macy’s, HSN, Lane Bryan and Evans.

“The line is filled with sophisticated basics that come with considered details (pockets on everything!), and much of the inspiration comes from McCarthy’s own experience of not being able to find well-made, well-fitting, actually beautiful clothes, despite being a celebrity with incredible access,” Refinery29 said.

Plus-size actress Rebel Wilson also recently unveiled a plus-size women’s clothing collection for Torrid, a retail clothing chain that sells sizes 12 to 28.

But is a plus-size clothing revolution a good thing? After all, obesity can be a serious health issue.

Torrid senior designer Liz Munoz said obesity and providing fashion-forward clothing options for plus-size women are two separate issues.

“We’re not here to encourage people to be bigger,” she said in an interview with NPR. “We’re not here to encourage people to be overweight. I think we are addressing the reality of what is going on in our world,” Munoz said.

What do you think about the expanded clothing options for plus-size women? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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