Featured Jan 21, 2020 7 min read

The driving forces of the trends behind special sizes

How are plus, tall, petite and maternity markets shaping up in the new year?

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How are plus, tall, petite and maternity markets shaping up in the new year?

As body diversity continues to gain importance in fashion, retailers with a representation of major product trends across sizes will reap the rewards.

Are you looking to diversify sizes across your business? Get in touch to see how EDITED’s Retail Decision Platform can help grow your assortment and monitor best practices. 

Macro trends

Several brands stepped up their efforts last year across both the runway and in retail to promote greater size inclusivity, setting up 2020 to be a year of reckoning. 2019 saw Jameela Jamil and Lizzo emerge as the new role models, challenging traditional beauty ideals and encouraging self-love and body acceptance.

Body positivity continues to trend in search volume across the US and UK markets. However, Brits are educating themselves more on another term. ‘Body neutrality’ is a growing movement promoted by Jamil’s I Weigh campaign and supported by celebrities such as Taylor Swift. Body neutrality fosters acceptance as the main goal and differs from body positivity as it aims to remove the pressure many women feel to love their bodies.

special sizes

Whether a retailer is breaking up sizes under different branding or extending runs, inclusivity is key. Prices for the same items available across shop-by-fit categories need to be consistent. Pricing the exact style higher for an item in the plus collection than in core will only result in backlash.

Additionally, important trends need to be interpreted throughout each size as consumers are fatigued with being told what they can and can’t wear for their body shape. Last year saw major players make strides to cater their assortments to a variety of body types. Read on for the key takeaways to learn from and what to consider in 2020.

Tall

What happened in 2019?

The bottoms category was the primary focus of arrivals at Missguided, Topshop, PrettyLittleThing and Loft with investments in jeans, trousers and skirts of midi and mini lengths. Boohoo saw the greatest number of new all-in-ones. However, the category dropped slightly for the retailer YoY by 8% across both the US and UK. In line with trends across core ranges, the midi was the most popular dress style at fast fashion brands, while wrap styles were favored at Loft and maxis at Long Tall Sally.

What to consider for 2020

In addition to minimal and effortless style, Scandinavian influencers are known for their height. With over 1.27m posts on Instagram using the hashtag #scandinavianstyle, this aesthetic has captured the fashion industry’s attention and is an ideal trend to incorporate into tall ranges.

On a product level, jeans and trousers that cater to long limbs will continue to be a necessity in 2020 as relaxed, cropped and wide-leg silhouettes have emerged in retailers’ new season drops. Look to Madewell, which actively promotes the rise, inseam and leg opening lengths within email communications, providing full transparency for customers of all heights. Keep the tall consumer in mind for swimwear during summer buys as one-pieces continue to trend, a swimsuit with a longer body length than average is required.

Recent successful arrivals:

Petite

What happened in 2019?

Retailers predominantly bought into knitwear for their tops assortments except for Missguided, opting for more cropped styles instead. Dresses made up between 20-30% of new arrivals at boohoo, Miss Selfridge, Missguided and New Look’s ranges. Patterned midi dresses again emerged as a key style throughout the year, while greater emphasis was placed on party styles in Q4. Eileen Fisher and Banana Republic cornered the market for petite workwear, while Topshop grew its bottoms category YoY by adding new jeans styles.

What to consider for 2020

Thanks to their viral success, patterned dresses proved to be one of the hottest trends of 2019 and are easy to incorporate across all sizes. Florals were particularly popular in the petite market, making up half of the printed dresses arriving new at Loft and Topshop. Look to updating micro florals with next season’s biggest print – tropical, as seen on JLo at Versace Spring 2020.

Recent successful arrivals:

Plus

What happened in 2019?

In Q4, EDITED noted a decline in overall product assortments quarter-over-quarter. Puff sleeves, animal prints, graphic tees and denim outerwear were trends that performed well throughout the year. Plus-size models saw a greater representation on the runway last season with 86 models appearing across the cities, up from 50 in Fall 2019. Larger sizes are also being catered for throughout niche categories such as bridal with the launch of Ashley Graham’s wedding dress collection at Pronovias. Additionally, Nasty Gal became another fast fashion brand to incorporate plus sizing into swimwear, launching its first collection back in May. A greater emphasis was placed on activewear with adidas launching its first collection up to a 4XL and Nike showcasing curvier mannequins in stores.

What to consider for 2020

Despite seeing more body diversity on the runway, the luxury and premium space still have a long way to go in terms of inclusive sizing, which brands can no longer afford to ignore in 2020. We are already seeing a shift in the tide with Fenty stocking up to the equivalent of a UK 18, as well as DVF and Rodarte partnering with 11 Honore and Universal Standard, respectively.

Recent successful arrivals:

Maternity

What happened in 2019?

Maternity fashion continues to evolve in line with current trends, blurring the lines between products worn pre and post-birth. The category became more fashion-forward with cult brands such as Lively and Sézane promoting elevated campaigns.

What to consider for 2020

Although birth rates are dropping in both the US and UK, the global maternity wear market size (valued at USD 18.3 billion in 2018) is expected to grow by 4.3% from 2019 to 2025. While maternitywear has become more trend-driven, there is still scope for retailers to invest in apparel that is both functional and fashionable. Areas such as activewear have still not been tapped. Work out clothes only make up 3% of the product currently stock at MAMA by H&M and 7% of Old Navy’s Maternity. This is an area of opportunity as fashion brands are competing in the active space.

Recent successful arrivals:

Sustainable & size inclusive brands of note

Every sector of the fashion industry is responsible for tackling sustainability issues as environmental concerns reach critical mass. Here are some notable brands promoting both size inclusivity and sustainability:

Rental Services

Companies such as Rent the Runway, Le Tote, Stitch Fix and more offer categories such as plus, petite and maternity for rent.

Eileen Fisher

Known for inclusive sizing, Eileen Fisher continues to make sustainable clothes accessible to everyone with its recent gender-neutral collaboration with Nordstrom.

Reformation

Instead of launching a separate brand for shop-by-fit categories, the eco-friendly trailblazer permanently extended its sizing at the end of 2018.

The Girlfriend Collective

The activewear retailer runs sizing up to an XXXL, as well as committing to complete transparency by educating its consumers on its end-to-end processes. 

Overall, brands have taken more leaps to diversify their sizing whether it’s for tall, petite, maternity or plus. Though there are still plenty of untapped opportunities to expand and ensure all consumers are catered to no matter their size.

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*Google Trends Interest Over Time: Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity fo the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means that there was not enough data for this term.