The plus size industry is one of the fasting growing markets and there’s no better candidate than retailers themselves to take the lead in representing this burgeoning market.
Ever looked at models on a plus size clothing website and wondered where her curves were? If you’ve ever picked up a plus size catalogue or lookbook, or shopped online for plus size clothing, then chances are you have.
Models used in plus size e-commerce photography have historically tended to be at the smaller end of the ‘plus’ spectrum. So much so, the photography can sometimes provide little, if any, representation of how the garments will look on the shoppers themselves.
But truth is, the times they are a changin’. Or it looks that way.
We carried out a little market review and the top line is that the majority of plus size fashion retailers, including mainstream brands such as M&S, ASOS and H&M, are now choosing to use size 16 – 18 models. The average dress size for a woman in the UK is a size 16, so this turn of events means retailers using more representative models gives an even more realistic representation of their products from first sight. This comes coupled with a clearly refreshed emphasis on portraying the fuller figure in a confident and fashion forward context, empowering wearers to embrace more trend led items.
So what has changed?
The rise of social media has become an important catalyst for how retailers are presenting their plus size offering and has given a whole new voice to the curve movement. A quick search on Instagram discovers that there’s almost 4 million ‘plus size’ tags alone, with a further million tags for ‘plus size fashion’ – that’s one heck of a voice. And now, more than ever before, women of all shapes and sizes – and professions – are able to have their opinions heard and are collectively influencing how plus size fashion is perceived. All the while, letting brands know what they and their fellow consumers wish to see and how they want it to reflect their lives, allowing us get a better and more in depth look into a very key, and mostly misunderstood, consumer base.
And what is it plus size customers want?
Consumers want honesty. From knowing the origin of their food to being aware of the ingredients in their beauty products, it’s about honesty, transparency and brands with an ethos that aligns with who they are. Every fashion consumer is concerned with fit and flattering designs, too. So it’s impractical for a shopper to gauge an item on a size 14 model when she actually wants to purchase a size 20.
The market in all sectors of fashion is constantly evolving and many retailers have chosen to reflect that with extended product offerings. So why not truly expand your brand and choose a model that truly mirrors the wants and experiences of those customers that buy it? Let them fully connect with you and your brand and they’ll likely become customers for life.
Plus size models are on the rise but we need to promote this as standard when it comes to e-commerce photography, not just ride the current wave of popularity.
Completing a diverse line up of models, Swedish retail clothing company H&M has just unveiled plus size model Ashley Graham as one of the faces of its new Studio collection.
Ashley Graham is an American plus size model and self-confessed ‘body activist’. Signed to IMG Models agency in New York, Ashley started out as a lingerie model and has gone on to grace the covers of Elle and Sports Illustrated magazine. Widening her brand into fashion retail is the best way for brands to harness her star power, and showcase new plus lines in a way that consumers can feel intrigued by.
H&M's creative advisor, Ann-Sofie Johansson, says this collection is inspired by "female strength and power, with a fresh look at folklore and romance. It's very elevated, and also very real."
Though their newly diverse campaign is nothing to be sniffed at, H&M’s plus sizing roll out has been far from perfect. The plus size garments won’t be found in stores near you right now, instead consigned to being solely available online. Treating these ranges as niche somewhat lessens the progressive foot forward H&M are professing.
But let’s not digress.
There’s so many aspects to this debate (is ‘plus size’ a term the consumer wants? What exactly are customer expectations around realism vs aspiration?), but where fashion e-commerce photography is involved, it’s time to make sure your imagery truthfully reflects your brand values. It’s time to stop viewing plus size fashion as a fad, and start embracing a diversity in the customer base.
We guarantee your customers will love you for it.
There are lots of things to consider and take care to make sure you produce the perfect imagery, but luckily for you, that’s what we do. So let us take care of shoot coordination and guarantee the highest quality product photography. If you’d like to find out more, simply drop us an email at email@example.com. Our team has tons of experience working with many of the UK’s top brands, and they’d love to work with you too.