Global research indicates that plus size fashion is a growing market. Plus size womenswear retailers K&K Fashions opens its 21st store nationwide in the Wellington CBD today.
K&K Fashions is Kiwi-owned and was established in 1981. It caters for customers up to size 26. Retail manager Rachel Korpus says the team is thrilled with the new store.
“The store brings the brand to life and will be an inspiring and exciting way for our customers to shop an assortment of trends [and] inspiring head-to-toe looks,” she says. “Our staff are poised to help not just our fashion-focused customers, but also introduce those that are new to the brand and need help finding the perfect fit.”
The 93-square-metre shop will hold K&K’s complete range, as well as showcasing its “stronghold” category – denim.
Marketing and digital manager Diana Lamb says digital and physical accessibility is increasingly important for customers, so the new store’s central location is key.
“This new store gives us the opportunity to reach local women who have previously been limited to online interaction or a trip north [K&K’s current local store offering can be found in Queensgate mall, Lower Hutt],” Lamb says. “We’re delighted to create a shopping destination both online and in store in this region giving our customers options based on how they prefer to shop.”
Research from around the globe indicates that now is a good time to be in plus-sized clothing retail. Tamara Sender from UK market research firm Mintel links bodyweight with age in an opinion piece for the website Business of Fashion. She says women’s clothing sizes increase with their age, and almost a quarter of British females aged 55 and above wear a size 18 or above.
“As the population ages, retailers will need to ensure that they design garments to flatter and fit larger sizes,” Sender says. “They will also need to stock more plus-sizes in store to cater to older consumers who prefer to visit stores than shop online for clothes.”
Like the UK, New Zealand’s population is facing an aging population. By 2036, Statistics NZ expects that nearly a quarter of Kiwis will be aged 65+.
Global information company NPD Group reported last year that the US plus-sized market was up five percent from the year before, bringing its total value to $17.5 billion. Most sales channels experienced growth, but ecommerce and department stores were particularly strong performers, growing by 31 percent and 7 percent respectively.
Echoing Sender’s perspective, NPD Group reported that consumers aged 55 to 64 represented the largest dollar share out of all plus-sized shoppers. While the share of the youngest age group 13-17, actually fell by 11 percent, those aged 18 to 24 are flocking into the plus sized market – their share grew by 27 percent over the two years prior to 2014.
Those who wear plus-sized clothing are not exclusively overweight or obese, but perhaps it goes without saying that New Zealand’s increasing obesity rates are likely to contribute to the strength of the plus-size clothing market. Data from the Ministry of Health’s most recent health survey shows 31 percent of Kiwi adults are obese, with a further 34 percent overweight.