“Plus-size [clothing] is a booming yet underserved area of the apparel industry,” according to The NPD Group. The market for plus-sized women’s apparel is growing faster than the total women’s clothing market—and gaining share, according to a Coresight Research report. Sales were $34.3 billion in 2021—up 21.2% from 2020 and were expected to grow 7.6% this year.
Axios explains this surge is partly driven by younger women embracing body positivity, demanding the latest fashions in larger sizes, and worshiping the social media stars who wear them. “They’re showing off their curves on TikTok, and the term ‘plus-size’ and its negative connotations are rapidly being banished.”
Instead, the industry is turning to inclusive sizing. Axios says, “The brass ring is to offer sizes 00-40—not just plus sizes 16-26—in everything from jeans and lingerie to formalwear.” While the average American woman wears a size 16 or 18, many apparel manufacturers only offered their clothes in limited size ranges.
The intimate apparel market pioneered the concept of inclusive sizing and showed that female consumers would spend on categories where they feel well-represented. And inclusive sizing is now “a big driver in intimates,” according to Edited, a retail data analytics company.
Retail experts predict that womenswear and menswear brands will increasingly embrace inclusive sizing, not just online but in stores. Old Navy tried it in its stores but rolled the program back last spring. Fortune explains where Old Navy went wrong.