Where are all the plus-size clothes?

(Photo credit: Berlei Curves)

The average Australian woman is around a size 16.

But you wouldn’t know that if you walked into most fashion stores. Overwhelmingly, the shops are filled with Barbie-shaped mannequins and racks of clothes that seem to stop at size 12.

But a new report has found all those clothes targeted only to women size 8-14 are doing retailers no favours. The Choice Consumer report suggests retailers are missing out on profits because they only sell clothes that fit a limited number of women – and by doing so they’re ignoring larger sizes and a larger market.

The demand is there, but the sizes are not. reports:

Choice says an increasing number of females say they’re forced to shop online or at chain stores because they can’t fit the stylish clothes sold in shopping malls or high street stores.

Retailers who say they are struggling should consider expanding their range to fit the growing number of women who wear size 16 and above, Choice spokeswoman Ingrid Just says.

“What we’re essentially identifying is that there is a whole market out there that many designers and retailers aren’t necessarily tapping into,” Ms Just said.

“Consumers are finding themselves quite frustrated by not being able to buy clothes that suit their bodies.”

The report also found that women’s fashion ranges come “crashing to a halt” at size 14 and that where larger items are available, they’re coming at a price – sometimes retailing for double the amount of similar items in smaller sizes.

Could these be the same retailers who are crying poor because everyone’s shopping with online stores in the UK and the US?

If so, why aren’t designers and retailers tapping into the MAJORITY of the market and making a profit? Anyone?

Choice suggests that some retailers shun plus sizes because they only want their brands associated with slim people. Call it fashion snobbery. In the same way the vast majority of fashion retailers advertise their brands using extremely tall, size 8 (Photoshopped) models, this same principle is echoed by the racks in-store; the labels are controlling who wears their clothes by excluding plus-sizes from their range.

Plus-size fashion designer Megan Moir Pardy said she started her fashion label, Damn You Alexis, because of the lack of labels catering to plus sizes.

She said there’s three reasons Australian labels are ignoring plus size women.

Megan Moir Pardy

1. The cost and fear of changing patterns to suit a curvier figure. The grading between sizes 6 and 12 is quite uniform but when you get up to sizes 16 to 24 women put on weight in vastly different ways and the pattern needs to be adjusted to make the garment work.

2. The stigma attached to a plus size clothing. The cooler, edgier labels have a reputation that the customer wants to buy into. Plus sizes aren’t part of that.

3. They simply don’t think plus size women want fashionable clothes. There is a mentality that if you really wanted to wear fashion, you would lose weight.

And she said the Choice’s spokeswoman was voicing an opinion “plus women have been shouting about for years! There is a huge market out there for labels willing to embrace it. In a challenged retail market I’m really surprised more Australian labels aren’t increasing their size range to include plus.”

And maybe if they did they’d be making (plus) money.

What’s been your experience with finding clothes you like in sizes that fit you?