Many mass-market apparel retailers perceive their plus-size ranges as performing acceptably when in fact, consumers are only buying them because they feel there’s no other option, Kerr says. She says the high price point of more fashion-forward plus-size clothing, whether sold in New Zealand or imported from overseas retailers, has forced many plus-sized consumers into garments which don’t fit well or suit their taste.
“There are people who will buy things, not because they like them or feel good in them, but because they feel that’s their only choice.”
Kerr says the plus-size market in New Zealand is “way behind” retailers in Australia and the US, and is missing out on sales as a result. By way of example, Kerr says when plus-size bikinis became popular a few years ago, she found that not one local retailer stocked them.
“They say they won’t stock them because customers don’t want them, but I know their customers want them because they’re coming to me saying, ‘Where can I buy a bikini over a size 18?’”
Kerr feels little consideration has been given to plus-size consumers by New Zealand retailers.
“I don’t know if they don’t want to cater for plus-size [shoppers] for personal or political reasons, or maybe all their friends and family are under a size 16 so they just don’t think about it.”
Kerr says that if plus-sized customers were better served by retailers in New Zealand, they would potentially show greater loyalty than straight-sized shoppers as trying items on in-store is of high importance to them. Bigger bodies have more diversity in terms of shape, so any given plus-size garment’s fit is much harder to judge remotely.
In an attempt to assess the current situation, we asked Kerr’s Facebook community about how they feel their needs are being addressed. Hundreds of posts later, here are the scientifically-questionable but undeniably compelling results.
Each question was asked by Kerr in a separate Facebook post, made over a period of one week.