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Brands Are Missing Out on Major Plus-Size Money, Survey Finds

A new survey of plus-size shoppers makes it clear: They’re ready to spend.

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A look from Dia&Co’s website Photo: Dia & Co

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These days, it seems like not a week goes by without a major retailer either declaring bankruptcy or closing stores.

And yet the market for plus-size women’s clothing currently tops $20 billion — you would think big companies would be taking advantage and targeting the plus-size shopper.

But a new survey suggests they’re not. Plus-size style startup Dia & Co released new data from a poll of 1,500 women who wear a size 14 or larger and self-identify as plus-size, and two facts stick out: 78 percent of respondents said they would be willing to spend more money on clothing if more designers offered plus-size options. And a whopping 80 percent said they would likely purchase an item from their favorite designer if larger sizes were made available.

In other words, plus-size shoppers have money, they want to spend that money, but the brands and stores they love aren’t delivering the goods.

These findings echo the frustrated retail stories you often hear. As one writer put it on Racked just yesterday, “Why don’t you want my money, J.Crew? It’s green and has the same value as that of a woman wearing a size 4.”

There are, of course, specific stores that are giving plus-size shoppers more options. Mass retailers like Target, fast fashion companies like Forever 21 or H&M, and some indie brands that focus on that market specifically have proven to be good choices for shoppers above a 14.

But tellingly, respondents in Dia & Co’s survey named Kate Spade, Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole, and Diane von Furstenberg as the top designers they wish would create clothing in their size. These respected contemporary and luxury brands deliver quality clothes, often with a luxury feel, at a higher price — and women above a size 12 or 14 want to be able to wear them, too.

Given how much some of these brands are struggling, you would think they would not only acknowledge and embrace these potential paying customers, but also to take notice of the massive business opportunity on which they’re currently missing out. When 78 percent of women say they’re willing to fork over more cash, the business implications here are hard to ignore.