Fargo Fashion | Plus Size Fashion Gap Slowly Shrinking

 

Over half of American women wear a size 14 or above, with the average size being a 16. However, plus sizes only account for 17 percent of apparel sales in the United States.

According to a survey conducted by Dia & Co. (basically the plus size Stitch Fix), 78 percent of plus size women would spend more on clothes if only they were offered more options. Statistics like these highlight the huge gap in the fashion industry for stylish extended sizes.

Brands are slowly making progress, but it’s an impatient wait for plus size fashionistas like Chantel Cummings.

A recent graduate of NDSU’s apparel, retail merchandising and design program, Cummings recently volunteered backstage at LA Fashion Week and is working to bring a fashion week to Fargo next fall.

Despite her love for fashion, there aren’t many retailers that offer clothes in her size and style, especially brick and mortar locations where she can easily try on items.

“My entire closet is Eloquii, Gap or Lane Bryant,” Cummings said.

Some brands are finally adding more options.

In March, Nike launched their first plus-size range, which goes up to 3XL. Just this April, Forever 21 Plus relaunched their offerings, expanded marketing and added a swim collection.

But it isn’t as progressive as it sounds if you ask Cummings.

“They are not helpful in the plus size world. They are fake plus size,” she said of Forever 21. “XL is considered plus size. A 3XL is like a size 18 in the real world, so their plus size line goes up to an 18. Like, are you kidding me? There are people who are size 28.”

But Cummings also acknowledges the gap for plus size apparel is present in part because plus size women have such diverse body types, making accurate fit a challenge for designers.

“The plus size world is just so hard to dress,” she said.

Plus size women vary in their body shapes, comfort levels, ages and style preferences, and there just aren’t enough options to accommodate the wide range of needs in the market.

For instance, Forever 21 expanded the styles they sell but didn’t expand the size range, whereas Lane Bryant goes up to size 28 but doesn’t offer the fun, trendy styles younger women want.

One brand Cummings thinks is successfully balancing style and fit is online retailer Eloquii. This fashion-forward brand for sizes 14 to 28 offers pieces that range from chic and classic to unexpected and dramatic.

Similarly, ASOS Curve stays right on top of new trends with their wide selection of styles up to size 24.

Both e-commerce site Simply Be and Target’s Ava & Viv are just as adorable as they are affordable. Torrid has long been a go-to for edgier fashion in sizes 10 to 30, and Evans brings a touch of their native

KEYONA ELKINS | THE SPECTRUM
Chantel Cummings describes her personal style as classic and loves wearing pieces that emphasize her curves.

British aesthetic to feminine fashion designed with different plus size body shapes in mind.

Khloe Kardashian and Emma Grede are bringing trend-right, high-tech, well-fitted jeans to curvy girls size 00 to 24 with their new denim line Good American.

Most of these brands are strictly online though, which makes finding the right fit frustrating. Other brands like Gap have extended sizes as well, but their in-store offerings are typically very limited.

This gap in the market, though, means big opportunity.

“People gotta get out there and start designing,” Cummings said. “Someone just has to dive in and do it. Maybe it’ll be me.”

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