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Plus Styles Getting Hotter
by Yul Kwon at Kristin Miles
Unflattering Plus size clothing for women is slowly going the way of neon headbands and biker shorts in the world of fashion. Women requiring larger fits (size 14 and up) are finding more options when it comes to choosing their wardrobes. Clothing companies and retailers have gotten smarter and are no longer viewing Plus clothing as a necessity to cover-up imperfections but rather embracing the view that Plus clothing can be fun and sexy for the larger woman.
Los Angeles based Kristin Miles is a plus clothing line that shares this view. With 20 years of serving the Plus size market, the company had started off providing more traditional styles to small Plus retailers and specialty chains. “We used to make basic items aimed at women in their late thirties to fifties.” says Yul Kwon, Managing Partner of Gemix, Inc. and the Kristin Miles label. “However, as the years passed, we have seen a strong demand for younger, trendier looks. Now it has gotten to the point where customers are kicking and screaming at us to make fashion forward designs.” This demand has led Kwon to create the Missphit label in order to solely focus on the underserved segment of young or young-at-heart Plus shoppers. As a sign of more mainstream retailers catching on, Missphit has recently received orders from department store mainstay Dillard’s. Other hip brands such as Baby Phat and Apple Bottoms have already begun to offer trendy Plus styles through their powerful retail channels.
Research on the plus size market have for years shown the strong buying power of this market, yet most larger woman will tell you that they cannot find enough styles for their curvy shapes. Estimates for 2005 show that 30% of the U.S. woman’s apparel market is Plus size with 47 billion dollars spent. Many studies also indicate that the average size of American women is a 14 and that the majority of women in the U.S. wear a size 12 or above. Despite the fertile territory in larger sizes, most clothing companies have still preferred to focus their design and sourcing resources on fitting the smaller woman. This can be evidenced in most department stores where Woman’s (larger sized) sections are cast off to far corners of the shopping netherworld. Should a larger woman finally find her section, the majority of the women are disappointed to find boring or out-dated styles.
Well it appears as if better shopping experiences are ahead as the fashion industry is finally starting to pay attention to the specific needs and wants of the curvy woman. In the case of Kristin Miles, its cuts are designed to enhance shapes rather than hide them, avoiding the traditional “boxy” cuts many Plus manufacturers prefer. “Some companies take a conservative approach when fitting the larger woman, however our research and experience has told us otherwise. Plus women want to show their curves and feel sexy – and they are.” Kwon said. Reinforced by more positive media images, an increasing number of larger women have become empowered by the fact that their natural curves can draw serious sex appeal. The popularity of celebrities such as singer/actress Queen Latifah and Plus size model Toccara Jones support this confidence surge.
Many in the fashion industry have embraced this liberating mindset and have now begun to re-think and re-sketch their designs for beauty. Other fashion designers and companies should eventually join companies such as Kristin Miles to fill the economic gap. Driven by these forces, the fashion industry should provide better choices for this large segment of the apparel market. And finally, the average American woman will be able to rest assured that the latest runway hits will be hanging in her closet soon.
About The Author
This article was contributed by Yul Kwon at Kristin Miles clothing. Kristin Miles is a new trendy plus size line, based in Los Angeles; you can find Missphit items sold in plus boutiques, online, and also Dillards deptartment stores.