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Men have grown, so must the menswear plus-size market

By Vivian Hendriksz

7 Jul 2017

Fashion

As the men across the nation continue to grow wider, retailers and brands alike are being urged to ensure their apparel collections are more inclusive. As the UK continues to face an obesity epidemic, it has led to the rise of a category previously perceived as a niche sector - namely plus-size menswear. In fact, the menswear plus-size market is predicted to become one of the strongest performer drivers in the UK fashion market over the next five years, according to GlobalData, data service provider.

The plus-size menswear market is set to grow over 22 percent to 2022, which is why high street retailers are being called up to expand their collections to include extended sizes. This places these fast-fashion retailers ahead of their peers when it comes to fulfilling the demand for plus-sized menswear, as 13 percent of male shoppers say they are keen to see more plus-size fashion on the market, according to Mintel, market research firm. “With improved availability and choice, plus size shoppers are better catered for than ever before,” said Kate Ormrod, lead retail analyst at GlobalData.

The rise of the UK menswear plus-size market

However, even though men’s waistlines are continuing to grow, recent data from Edited found that new arrivals of menswear plus-size products have actually decreased by 54 percent over the last five years - raising alarms bells for fashion retailers missing out on a key opportunity. This in stark contrast to womenswear plus-size product arrivals, which have increased 375 percent during the same timeframe. In order to tap into this increasing menswear segment, UK fashion retailers are being advised to follow in the footsteps of high street retailer River Island and online pure player Asos, which have recently launched plus-size menswear collections that have gone on to become runaway successes.

Asos was the first of the two to launch its menswear plus-size range. Entitled ‘Asos Plus line’ the collection dropped in December 2016, offering sizes up to a 4XL as well as Tall line for men who are 6’3” and over. The range is based on Asos current collection offering and focuses on trend-led casual pieces. Asos is said to have launched close to 1,000 Plus line products since December, which has proven to be very popular. It takes a Plus item 51 days on average to sell out, which is nearly three times as fast as any item from Asos main menswear line, according to Edited.

“Following the success of women’s plus size clothing over the past five years, retailers are finally starting to pay more attention to men’s ranges,” noted Katie Smith, senior fashion & retail analyst at Edited to FashionUnited. One of the most appealing features of Asos Plus is that its pricing scheme is identical to its mainline range, which is likely to be a plus for larger men who are used to paying a premium for larger sized apparel from specialist retailers. However, with the majority of the Plus line collection devoted to tops (68 percent) the online fashion retailer could better serve its plus-size menswear customers by offering more bottoms, outerwear and occasionwear.

Another highly successful, plus-size menswear range is that from River Island. Named Big and Tall, the collection launched on March 6 and runs up to a 4XL. The range focuses on casual, stylish garments and includes shirts, denim, outerwear knitwear and underwear. “We’ve conducted a lot of market research prior to this launch and found that there was a real demand for stylish menswear that accommodates more body shapes,” said Nick Tahir, head of menswear buying, River Island.

Although the price range for the collection is a little bit higher than Asos Plus Line, the British high street retailer added that it was very pleased with how the Big and Tall range was performing so far, and that it is currently growing in revenue each week. “Long sleeved Oxford shirts have been performing very well along with Jersey which is currently the number one category in Big and Tall,” said a spokesperson from River Island to FashionUnited.

“From more fashion-forward pieces to splurging on luxury items, the average male customer is breaking down traditional menswear stereotypes. At a time when retail woes are a daily news item, brands have a clear opportunity to boost their performance by investing in the menswear category,” added Smith.

Photos: RI Bif & Tall

Chart: Courtesy of Edited

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