New article about junior plus


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Posted by Emily on April 25, 2005 at 18:07:02:

Today's Chicago Tribune carries a great new article about plus-size teen fashion. Unfortunately, the article ends on a sour note, with more regurgitation of the usual weight hysteria (but I find it interesting to note that the author didn't quote any statistics -- since those statistics have all been proven false).

Therefore, I will cut and paste the article here, omitting the unnecessary scare tactics and hype which come at its conclusion. Without those, it's a good article, with some really positive statements.


The writer describes the experiences of one plus-size teen this way:

"Now, instead of wearing oversize shirts and lots of "black, black, black," Donoho wears pink, form-fitting Ts and curvaceous, off-the-shoulder dresses."


Here's a great line about the changes in plus-size fashion:

"And Torrid isn't the only store pushing minis over muumuus."


The article acknowledges a change in perception about the attractiveness and popularity of plus-size teens:

"They're going to proms and homecomings and dances. And they want the same trendy styles being shown in the stores for junior sizes," Librach said."


It notes the popularity of feminine styles:

"punk and goth styles taking a back seat to the preppy look"


And I love this line, which is from a Lane Bryant spokeswoman:

"we're seeing more girls come through our doors looking for the best-fitting jean, the sexiest top or even the best-fitting bra,"

Note that she says "the SEXIEST top," not the most slimming or skimming or hiding or disguising top. Applause!


Anyway, here's the article in full (except for the unnecessary ending):

.........................

Specialty stores aim for better fit

Retailers tap into demand and buying power of teenage girls and young women who want trendy, current fashions in larger sizes

By Shia Kapos Special to the Tribune
Published April 25, 2005


While slipping out of a purple, lace formal gown with spaghetti straps and into a black-and-white scooped-back number, Alex Donoho confesses she hasn't always liked shopping for clothes--especially for something so elegant as a prom dress.

"I hated it. It was just so embarrassing because they don't have styles that fit. I wouldn't cry, but I'd just give up and walk out," said the 18-year-old Elgin High School senior, who favors a Kelly Osbourne look.

That all changed when Donoho walked into the Woodfield mall in Schaumburg and found Torrid, a Los Angeles-based retailer offering cool clothes for plus-size girls and young women.

Now, instead of wearing oversize shirts and lots of "black, black, black," Donoho wears pink, form-fitting Ts and curvaceous, off-the-shoulder dresses.

The U.S. chain and sister company of punk clothier Hot Topic Inc. is leading a nationwide trend in catering to teen girls and young women bigger and curvier than they were 50 years ago when size standards were established.

Torrid popped up in shopping malls four years ago when Hot Topic recognized a demand.

"Customers were asking over and over again for things in their size," said Torrid President Patricia Van Cleave. "It started as an experiment and it's become a growth area" for the company, going from six stores in 2001 to 76 today, including stores in Schaumburg and Orland Park. The company plans to open 45 stores this year, including one in the Hawthorn shopping center in Vernon Hills.

Analysts say Torrid's growth dilutes the hit that Hot Topic took last year when profit fell 17 percent, to $39.7 million--a result, says Van Cleave, of punk and goth styles taking a back seat to the preppy look.

And Torrid isn't the only store pushing minis over muumuus.

Nationwide, retailers and small businesses are finding success in catering to what is described as a plus-size woman, who usually starts at size 14. In the last two years, the industry has grown 10 percent and 12 percent to a more than $3 billion industry, according to market researchers at NPD Group.

The plus-size teen apparel market for girls is about 4.9 percent of the total female plus-size market, according to Cotton Inc., a not-for-profit trade association for the cotton industry.

In 2004, the plus-size teen market saw apparel sales increase by 10.7 percent, while the non-plus-size market saw a 6.4 percent increase. Plus-size teens also paid a slightly higher average price for apparel in 2004--$19.03 compared to $18.95 for standard sizes, according to Cotton Inc.

Consumers in the teen-plus category are also as varied as the styles, NPD analyst Marshal Cohen says.

"You've got J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart offering traditional products and Torrid offering avant-garde. Clearly, there's opportunity in different segments," he said.

"This isn't about location or demographics. It's about pure need for consumers who have yet to be addressed completely," Cohen said.

Cotton Inc. says the teen plus-size market is the fastest-growing sector of retail because more teens and "tweens"--kids on the cusp of being teenagers--are coming into their own and have incredible buying power. And the buying power is trickling down to smaller, niche businesses that cater to plus-size girls and young women.

Sydney's Closet, a St. Louis showroom and online retailer of prom dresses and formalwear, sold 200 dresses in its first year. Now, three years later, it's on track to sell 2,000.

"For years, the plus-size teen was ignored because nobody believed she'd be going to the prom. But we're seeing a great demand," said Phyllis Brasch Librach, a former reporter who says she "traded deadlines for hemlines" when she founded Sydney's Closet.

"They're going to proms and homecomings and dances. And they want the same trendy styles being shown in the stores for junior sizes," Librach said.

Some popular designers are also taking notice of the untapped big-teen market, with lines by Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Liz Claiborne, Ellen Tracy and others.

"There used to be an assumption that a plus-size market didn't have the same style and taste as an aspirational woman, or an American woman who was a size 8," said branding expert Jennifer Ganshirt, a founder of Frank About Women market research group. "But as their markets have dwindled, they're realizing this is reality and that real women have curves."

Even Lane Bryant, the venerable plus-size clothier for women, says it has seen an increase in teen customers.

"We don't make clothes specifically for teens, but we're seeing more girls come through our doors looking for the best-fitting jean, the sexiest top or even the best-fitting bra," spokeswoman Catherine Lippincott said.

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