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How the Menswear plus size market is gaining momentum

By Guest Contributor


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Asos and Boohoo were two of the first fashion-forward mass-market online retailers to invest in the men’s plus size market in 2016 and 2017, respectively. EDITED analyzes how their offerings have changed over the last year and how this compares to brands that solely offer larger sizing.

Four Highlights Seen Across Asos and Boohoo

1. Retailers are investing in larger sizing

Asos and Boohoo's plus ranges have increased T-shirt options in bigger sizes. However, Topman and Forever 21, who do not have a dedicated plus range, are also stocking more tees in and over a 2XL - usually the largest size available.

2. Suiting is in demand

Jacamo and Destination XL have had strong movement for suiting. Asos followed suit and saw high SKU activity for the largest sizes. Burton and River Island also offer suiting within their plus ranges, however, Boohoo and New Look have chosen not to invest.

3. Shirting is a growing category

For SS19, shirting occupies 12 percent more of the plus apparel assortment at Asos in the US and 8 percent more in the UK compared to SS18. Short-sleeve shirts with a revere collar were most widely stocked - they have few fit issues and so offer the perfect entrance into plus size shirting.

4. Denim isn't being invested in

Jeans at Asos and Boohoo are made up of predominantly continuity styles - little newness is noted. Denim jackets follow suit. With the advances in stretch denims and increased success noted for regular sizing for the category as a whole, this remains a missed opportunity.

How Has Sizing Changed?

This spring, Asos offered fewer tees starting in a 2XL and instead, have increased offerings for their larger sizes. Their regular line has seen a similar re-distribution with their smallest T-shirt size, XXS offered for less styles, while more options are available in 2XL and 3XL. Across both the US and UK, SS19 has 4 percent more T-shirts offered in a 6XL compared to SS18. Plus trousers followed suit with a 7% increase of their largest size, a 48 inch waist. The right call given this category currently sees more replenishments and sell outs than T-shirts within Asos's plus range.

Boohoo have followed suit from Asos noting 21 percent of tees across the US and UK available in a 4XL in SS19 compared to just 8 percent in the US and 6 percent in the UK for SS18. In addition, EDITED noted more tees at a starting size of 2XL as opposed to XL this Spring. Jean sizing has also seen a shift. While boohoo was not offering more options in a larger waist as their smallest size of 40 inches saw fewer investments.

How Have Assortments Changed?

Asos have chosen to increase their T-shirt offering for SS19 while outerwear decreased - the right move as more than 60 percent of this category is on discount. Although jeans have taken a hit, 22 percent of jeans in stock arrived in SS18 highlighting the brand's reliance on continuity styles. The shirting category is most notable, rising from 15 percent in SS18 to 27 percent in the US and 23 percent in the UK. The rise in popularity of the short-sleeved revere collar shirt has allowed for more investment without the difficulties surrounding sleeve length and collar size.

Interestingly SS19 has seen no new jean arrivals. Half of those currently in stock arrived during FW19 and the other half arrived prior to that. Boohoo does not currently offer fitted trousers and only sweatpants have seen a small rise from SS18 - highlighting an increase in smarter joggers. These smarter styles offer a great alternative to trousers for retailers looking to initially invest in plus size bottoms.

Unlike Asos, shirting has not increased. Instead, it's the polo shirt that has seen the most change, overtaking T-shirts. With fewer options on discount and more replenished, it's a great alternative to the tee that can be scaled up in size more easily than shirting.

What Can We Learn From Plus Size Retailers

Looking at products from Jacamo UK and Destination XL US across this past spring, utility shirting has moved well as its an on-trend piece that can still remain simple. Overshirts are a great option in this style to avoid fit difficulties that traditional shirting often presents.

While the short-sleeved shirt is a great option for the summer, longer options can’t be avoided as we move into fall. Stretch fabrics will allow more sizing flexibility, while still offering a fitted shirt. Paired with a band or grandad collar will further simplify fitting and collar sizing issues while remaining smart.

This article was written for FashionUnited by Tara Drury of Edited. Edited is the leader and industry-standard for real-time retail analytics, where the software leverages artificial intelligence to track and reveal insights on competitor product ranges, pricing, discounting and trends across the global retail landscape. The software is used by buyers, planners and trading teams to generate a huge competitive advantage.

Top image: Asos
Graphs: Edited

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