According to a study done by WHO (2016) over 50% of Europeans are overweight. On a global scale the percentage of overweight people has nearly doubled from 1980. 65% of world population lives in countries, where overweight and related issues kill more than underweight.  In 2011 over 40 million children under the age of five, were overweight. Harsh numbers, aren’t they?

 

Supply and demand: loophole discovered

Everybody knows overweight and obesity are serious issues in the modern world.

For an overweight consumer shopping is often a difficult, expensive and even depressive experience. Supply simply does not go with demand and finding the perfect piece of clothing can take a lot of time and effort.

“It’s wrong, that in some stores plus sized clothing are more expensive than normal sized ones. Selections are narrow. When shopping the top feeling is anxiety. Shopping makes me nervous, I don’t know is I will be able to buy something or am I just left with a blues. I’d love to shop something pretty and different, but there just isn’t enough size selection.” Suvi S., a consumer tells us about her shopping experiences. When it comes to her body type, Suvi is between normal and plus size selections.

The supply is there even for plus sizes, but it’s online.

Pin Up beauty Bebe La Vanille has noticed some improvement with the selections in Finland. Despite the growing supply, she feels like one of the basic consumer base more overseas than in her own country.

“Even though plus size selections in Finland are slowly growing, I still shop mainly overseas. The supply and selections are simply so much better, and a plus sized consumer is just one customer among others.”

Finding the right size and fit is extremely difficult for any consumer due to variety in body types. TailorGuide helps even the plus sized consumers to find the right size, e.g. on Varusteleka’s online shop.

 

Olly, olly oxen free!

Bodypositivity campaigns have affected plus size self-esteem really well but waking up the clothing business seems to have landed on the snooze button. Where are clothing manufacturers hiding?

Stockmann’s Garment Technician Katja Sääkslahti said in our earlier blog post, that it is highly important for them to listen to the consumers and their wishes.

“The size selection is determined in our buying team according to sales and selection structure. We aim to answer the needs of different body types also with a wide size selection. The sizing and fitting of Stockmann’s own clothing follows the Finnish size charting, that has been edited to customers and target groups.” Katja tells about Stockmann’s own clothing line.

Biancaneve’s owner and a progressive sports attire designer Elina Loueranta told us that she believes sports fashion will evolve to a wider size selection:

“Trend is going towards a more laid-back look, training clothes will be a bit looser. From there we get to plus size training clothes. Bodypositivity has affected the self-image and self-esteem of those who are more voluptuous, and people don’t wear saggy clothing anymore. Today people of all sizes and body types can highlight their best curves, and fitness attire is with them on this change.”

 

Hint of change

Plus sized consumers are “trained” to look for plus size selections in their own category or department. Online the difference isn’t that big other than maybe the number of clothing available, but in store the difference is quite remarkable. I spoke about it with Suvi.

“Mainly there is a lot of space in the stores, they could easily make slight changes and make the plus size department more appealing and bigger. Everybody is shouting about equality of all sizes and shapes, why isn’t it visible in stores?” Suvi wonders about the narrow departments. And it’s true, isn’t it. In store selection is narrow, if you are plus size.

Still, there is a whiff of change in the air. In addition to stores that are specialized in larger clothing, e.g. Lindex has merged plus sizes to “normal” sizes and the departments are gone. You can also see from the tag to what size the item has been made. At Varusteleka, wide size selection is part of their normal business and size selection has been made easy with TailorGuide.

“We take bigger, specifically wider, sizes to our selection whenever possible. There has been no need to make a fuss about it, plus sized customers have found the clothes without any “here’s for plus size” advertisement. It’s part of our thinking that we try to get a wide size selection from a few important items – jeans, cargo trousers and some jackets. In example, we don’t have many items for over 6’ 8” (~2meters), since before them there is a gang with a 4” (~150cm) waist.” Valtteri Lindholm, owner of Varusteleka explains their size selection width.

 

What should we do?

The narrowness of size selection can’t be explained with lack of target groups of buyers, since every fourth of Finns are overweight. Narrow size selection of course works are a motivator to lose weight – one just might want to drop those extra pounds to fit in that awesome dress that was made up to a size 18.

If in nearly 40 years we haven’t been able to get world-wide obesity under control, maybe it’s time we change tactics. When an overweight person makes the decision to lose weight, first step is to provide decent sports attire. Well made quality training attire motivates to continue exercising.

The selection for plus sized consumers is narrow to a point of being sad. In the lack of good-looking, supporting and health benefitting training clothes the step to a gym wearing cheap leggings and your BF’s tee is quite long, no matter how high your self-esteem is.

Could it just be, that overweight and obese people would exercise more if they could look and feel good, their clothing would enhance success and support their wobbly bits correctly?

 

 

We interviewed the owner of Varusteleka Valtteri Lindholm, Stockmann’s garment technician Katja Sääkslahti, Biancaneve’s owner, founder and a progressive sports attire designer Elina Loueranta, consumer Suvi S., and pin up beauty Bebe La Vanille who adventures in several blog posts.

Coming up! Spring sale inspired for a field day (I love my job). Stay fab, stay tuned!

 

Stat sources: Easo and WHO