For several years, there's been a significant push for the fashion industry to be more inclusive of body shapes, with customers demanding and deserving accessibility to buy into the latest trends regardless of size.
Some aesthetics historically skewed towards one body type have bubbled up again, presenting retailers with an opportunity to better cater to an under-served demographic.
In this report, EDITED flexes its data to examine how three of 2022’s viral aesthetics translate to larger sizing.
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Fashion’s eternal love affair with nostalgia means historical trends are constantly looping back around, as demonstrated by the revivals of Y2K and Twee. Retailers have a responsibility to ensure their interpretations of these trends are aligned with today's broader shifts towards greater inclusivity and diversity.
Of the analyzed trends, cut-outs have the most representation in the plus market. However, less than half of products in stock have styles available in extended sizes.
Retailers are striving for price parity across sizes for all trends. However, in some instances, plus-size Y2K styles such as micro mini skirts are priced above the brands’ average while velour jackets are more affordable.
Tumblr's murky past makes it paramount for retailers to ensure the Twee trend, originally popularized on the platform for thin white women, is made available to all. Currently, key elements such as product sets and patterned tights are lacking in fast fashion's inclusive products, though are stocked in straight ranges, widening the size gap.
Before we dive into the data, what’s driving the reach of trends across sizes? Consider two of the greatest influences on fashion - runway shows and social media. Both are incredibly powerful and, still inherently biased towards smaller bodies. Though size inclusivity on the catwalk saw a greater increase season-on-season, plus models only accounted for 1.81% of all castings in the Spring 2022 shows. Menswear is also impacted, with only seven out of 77 brands across the Fall 2022 circuit featuring plus-size male models.
The lack of size diversity has been recognized within Gen Z, who have championed the viral TikTok clip "is it a fit or is she just skinny?" - challenging the industry that regardless of what thin people wear, it will always be seen as stylish when it is actually their body that is perceived as fashionable, thus fuelling a toxic trend cycle.
The ubiquitous detail of the sexy dressing aesthetic, retailers have heavily invested in cut-outs across dresses, bodysuits, tops and trousers. However, peek-a-boo details are known to change a fabric's behavior, especially with jersey. If not fitted correctly on a diverse range of bodies, non-sample size customers risk having the wrong parts exposed in the cut-out, while other areas are too loose or tight.
At 34%, less than half of cut-out products available have styles in extended sizes. Within that range, the sizes with the greatest selection of options are an XL - 2XL, serving the mid-size to smaller end of the plus-size market. Across all sizes, dresses have the deepest investment. Comparing the prices of these at a brand level reveals dresses with larger sizes are, on average, more expensive at Fashion Nova, though cut-out trousers are cheaper and skirts and tops have price parity. Prices for these garments are on par with ASOS' private label average, however, there are currently no size-inclusive cut-out trousers stocked, suggesting a gap in the market.
Championed by midriff-baring popstars and socialites, representation in body diversity was severely lacking in the aughts era. This could potentially make plus customers who grew up in this era feel alienated by the trend's resurgence. With Y2K influences showing no signs of slowing, retailers have a chance to make the aesthetic more inclusive this time around for consumers across all generations.
Good American sent a dedicated email for low-rise denim marketed on a diverse cast of models on December 7th. However, the competition is scarce, with the silhouette equalling less than 1% of jeans stocked for inclusive styles. Meanwhile, the more commercial wide-leg equals 6%. As retailers invest in micro mini skirts, only 19% have inclusive options, with SHEIN favoring ruched styles with drawstrings for an easier fit. Across sizes, prices are maintained for this style, while inclusive mini skirts are slightly above average at UK rival Missguided, which offers plus-size wide-leg jeans and cropped tees below the average range.
The Twee Aesthetic
The artsy aesthetic that went Tumblr-viral in 2010 is the latest nostalgic era reimagined for today's customers. While the quirky prints, 60s-70s style dresses and Peter Pan necklines were popular among the plus-size community, options were limited as the trend was romanticized on Zooey Deschanel, Alexa Chung and similar body types. As oversized collars, cardigans and Argyle spark interest now's the time for retailers to let this customer finally live out their Wes Anderson-esque fantasy.
Matching product sets sold together can also be a challenging sell - especially if customers wear different sizes on top vs. bottoms. The product sets currently stocked in inclusive sizes are limited to mainly slouchy lounge sets, lacking the preppy tweed styles required to complement this trend. A key accessory for this look - printed tights also require options in larger sizes. Major fast fashion brands exiting at L. Plus blouses currently sit above the average price at Forever 21 and Quiz, highlighting an area to pull back on to ensure price parity across sizes.
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