In the GearTrends® Outdoor Winter 2006 magazine, we looked at the dilemmas that women who fall outside standard sizing face when buying sport apparel in our article "Fitting Challenge." (Click here to read ) Industry retailers and manufacturers should take notice that as waistlines expand across America, fashionable plus-size clothes are proliferating and moving into the mainstream, the Associated Press reported.
Retailers are expanding into larger sizes because demand has grown: Two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese today compared with 46 percent a quarter century ago, according to the American Obesity Association in Washington, D.C. Among children ages 6 to 11, about 30 percent are overweight or obese, up fourfold from 25 years ago. Nearly a third of those ages 12 to 19 are heavy, with the percentage more than doubling during the same period, the group said. That's why "virtually everybody" is looking to cater to the plus-size market, said Kurt Barnard, president of Barnard's Retail Consulting Group in Nutley, N.J. "That's where the dollars are."
AP noted that size snobbism is shrinking as retailers realize that outfitting the plus-size shopper is a growth niche in the mature women's apparel market, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at The NPD Group, a New York-based consumer research firm. From March 2005 to February 2006, sales of plus-size women's apparel rose by nearly 7 percent to $19 billion, according to the research company. That compares with a 3.4 percent increase in sales of women's clothing as a whole to over $101 billion.