Market for plus-size clothing booms

Demand for plus-size clothing soars as a quarter of British women are now size 18.

Mark Fast S/S 2010 - London Fashion Week - Marie Claire
Mark Fast S/S 2010 - London Fashion Week - Marie Claire
(Image credit: Mitchell Sams)

Demand for plus-size clothing soars as a quarter of British women are now size 18.

More than six million British women are now officially overweight, causing a boom in the plus-size clothing market.

In the last five years, there has been a 45% increase in plus-size clothing – compared to only 15% in the overall womenswear market – as now a quarter of British women are a size 18 or more.

‘Given the numbers of plus-size women – with a third wearing XL clothes or bigger – these consumers can no longer be considered a minority,’ said senior fashion analyst at Mintel, Tamara Sender.

Providing clothing for these women has become a billion pound market, bringing in £3.8 billion a year, and it is rapidly rising.

However, larger women have told researchers for Mintel that more still needs to be done to provide clothes that are fashionable and look good on a bigger frame.

‘Rising levels of obesity in the UK mean that plus-size consumers are increasing and these shoppers are looking for improved choice and more fashionable garments,’ said Sender.

Fashion designers have now started to cotton on to the high demand in stylish plus-size clothing.

This week, designer Marc Jacobs has revealed plans to launch his own plus-size clothing range, producing a line in size 14 and up.

He is not the first designer to break from convention and realise the potential in the plus-size market.

In February this year, designer Mark Fast made waves at London Fashion Week when he premiered size 12 and 14 models on his runway.

Some stores are also revolutionising their shops in response to the plus-size boom. Marks and Spencer has moved towards offering larger sizes in its fashions currently available to slimmer shoppers, while Debenhams is even sampling size 16 mannequins.



Natalia Lubomirski
Natalia is a health journalist with 14 years experience in the publishing industry. She has worked for a number of well known magazines and websites including Marie Claire, Woman&Home, Top Sante, Boots and The Telegraph.  She likes to think she practices what she preaches when it comes to health and fitness. Her athletic prowess began early. A keen fencer for 13 years, she wielded an epée for Olympic Team GB during her teenage years. She likes to think she made sword-fighting cool before Game of Thrones came along! While working on her sporting performance with the team, she also participated in a lot of nutrition and psychology training, When it comes to time off, you’ll most likely find her up a mountain somewhere. It seems holidays have become a time for climbing several thousand feet, rather than chilling out. She’s now hiked eight of the major mountain ranges across four continents – including the Appalachians, the Smokies, the Sierra Nevadas (she spent her honeymoon hiking to the top of Half Dome), as well as hitting the summits of Snowdon, Pen-Y-Fan (Brecon Beacons), Table Mountain in South Africa, the Blue Mountains in Australia and the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. She’s also passionate about all things health, particularly vaccinations, and will happily jump on her soap box at any given opportunity to talk about their benefits to anyone who will listen!