Sizing Up Fashion: Lingerie, Club Wear Designers Cater to Growing Segment

Alex Glass

In 2012, the plus size lingerie market was valued at $6.5 billion and if the recent influx of larger-sized lingerie and club wear is any indication – this segment is steadily growing.

Industry pundits say the growth has been fueled by the increase in more diverse body types and the acceptance of those curves – ultimately resulting in the need of the right fit. Reports note that the average bra size has jumped from 34B 20 years ago to 34DD in 2013. Though weight gain and breast implants play a role in the need for larger sizes, more women also have become more savvy about proper fit.

The curvy woman has been underserved in both fashion and intimate industries since the change in what is considered sexy came about with the boyish figure of the supermodel in the early ‘60s.

“The curvy woman has been underserved in both fashion and intimate industries since the change in what is considered sexy came about with the boyish figure of the supermodel in the early ‘60s,” a rep from Fantasy Lingerie said. “This has created a pent up demand for fashionable styles in fuller sizes. It is nice to see both the fashion and media industries starting to embrace all women of diversified demographics.”

With the realization and education on finding the right, customers are demanding more stylish, varied and sexy options in larger sizes. Women also are feeling more comfortable in their skin, identifying themselves as confident in their size.

In February, Curvy Girl Lingerie, reportedly one of only two plus-size lingerie shops in the nation, launched the Love Letter to Your Bully campaign in an effort to overcome fat-shaming.

Curvy Girl’s founder, Chrystal Bougon, says she was inspired to create the Love Letter to Your Bully campaign after coming across a meme by Jen McLellen, founder of PlusSizeBirth.com, in which confronted someone who had shamed her about being overweight. As part of the campaign, fans and followers created their own memes, and wrote letters to those who have bullied them that were shared on either the Curvy Girl Lingerie or Plus Size Mommy Memoirs Facebook pages.

“I wish all fat-shamers, ‘concern trolls’ and Internet bullies could get to a point in their lives where they can find some real love that will help heal or fill their heart, so their eyes and hearts can see beauty in all things and all people,” Bougon said. “Haters are motivators for me, and the hatred that they spew so freely all over social media helps me to wake up and hit the ground running each morning … fulfilling my life’s goal to show curvy, fat, thick and plush women that they are beautiful and sexy, and that they deserve to be respected and loved.”

In her self-made meme to those who have bullied her, Bougon writes, “Your hatred towards fat people fuels my fire to spend every waking moment showing curvy women how sexy they are. All women deserve to feel sexy and beautiful. My heart breaks for you that you cannot see the beauty in all bodies. I hope one day you find some LOVE in your life so that you can learn to love yourself and stop putting fat women down to fill your sad, empty heart. Choose love, not hate.”

Repping the motto “sexy isn’t a size,” Curvy Girl Lingerie in San Jose, Calif. carries items in sizes 14-6x.

“The plus size lingerie market as a whole is embracing the beauty of a full-figured woman with a growing trend of flattering, body-hugging styles,” says Lar Hovsepian of Dreamgirl. “Curve appeal and the empowering of a woman’s inner goddess is what we see as a trend that has traveled from ready-to-wear styles to lingerie.”

Baci Lingerie Social Media Manager Veronica Rajadnya says catering to plus-size women is part of the brand’s main principles.

“Lingerie is a wonderful expression of femininity, and Baci Lingerie is dedicated to the cause of providing beautiful garments and accessories and making them accessible to every woman through high-value price points, luxurious materials and thoughtful construction,” she said. “Plus size has been long underserved largely due to a lack of demand created by cultural and societal norms that compartmentalized plus size into a flat, uncomplicated category.”

In the summer issue of XBIZ Sensuals, Lisa Morel of Adam & Eve in Greensboro, North Carolina told reporter Luis Paredes, “I feel plus size ladies do not care about the cost of the lingerie because they have such few choices. So they buy what you have. More ladies are okay with saying they are fuller figure and queen size. They just want it to fit.”

Seven ’til Midnight also provides plus size versions of their styles each year. Currently, their Flashy Tube Dress (STM-9861P/9861XP) and Hourglass Dress (STM-9860P/9860XP) are best sellers. The brand also has a dedicated plus size range called Baby Got Curves.

“Our ‘Baby Got Curves’ collection does well with bright colors and more risqué pieces, such as teddies and bustiers. We offer a large range for our plus size customers in which colors are an option and fit is never a problem,” says Lisa Tran of Seven ’til Midnight.

“One of my first requirements when I joined XGEN was that one-third of our styles be available in plus size,” XGEN President Andy Green said. “Today, about 90 percent of our styles are now plus size.”

Green pointed out that among the modifications made to plus size is adding larger strings to the Lapdance bikini line. “We also offer four sizes in our vibrating panties line, Secrets. Those lace up on the side or back of the panties, as well.”

According to Green, XGEN goes above and beyond to acknowledge the plus size community.

XGEN Products recently added 29 new SKUs of Lapdance Lingerie to the range of dancewear, all of which are also available in plus size.

“We always feature a plus size model on the packaging – and our model is a size 18 whereas other companies have models that are more like size 10-12,” he said. “Additionally, we’ve added 10 percent more fabric and elasticity to our plus size offerings. These items now fit sizes up to 20. We’ve taken existing plus size styles and made them bigger, and coming styles will be available in bigger sizes too.”

Most notable for XGEN Products is the coming debut of a plus-size model in its Hot Mannequin line.

“We’re exclusive distributor of Hot Mannequin, and we’ve recently finalized the mold for a plus-size mannequin,” Green said. “We already have 100 mannequins pre-sold. It will be great for retail display – stores have never had something to merchandise plus-size lingerie with.” Rajadnya says, “Baci’s stunning collection of lingerie is designed to captivate the imagination and enhance any fantasy. With nearly 80 beautiful styles, including our Dreams Collection of bedroom costumes, available in plus-sizes ranging up to 4x, retailers can offer Baci Lingerie to virtually any consumer.

“Customers no longer have to sacrifice quality for reasonably-priced plus size lingerie. Baci’s Queen and Diva Size panties, chemises, and bodystockings all feature the luxurious fabrics and details that distinguish the brand as the pioneer for obtainable luxury. “Celebrate Every Woman” is not just a slogan for Baci Lingerie — it’s the brand philosophy.”

According to Rajadnya, the company received the approval of prominent plus size adult performer Kelly Shibari for its Flower Lace Bodystocking (Style No. 170), “‘OMG this thing is SO SOFT! The soft, fishnet-y stretchy fabric [of the Flower Lace] bodystocking fit great– in fact, I was able to stretch it out a bit more had I wanted to, which means someone a tad bigger than me would be able to wear this as well,”

Shibari continued, “Baci has a lot of really gorgeous pieces, and they’re really well made – the sheer fabric is super soft, the lace is high quality, and it’s the kind of lingerie you’d find at a high-end lingerie store.”

Featuring the tagline, “After all, Sexy is for every BODY,” Fantasy Lingerie says its plus-size offerings stand out fashionably.

“Curve by Fantasy Lingerie’s offerings are fun, innovative and youthful,” a Fantasy Lingerie rep said. “We think through our seasons and collections. That combined with our award winning packaging makes for a stand out product in the market place, keeping us ahead of the Curve.”

Looking towards the future, Lar Hovsepian of Dreamgirl says she sees the trends for plus-sized lingerie to, “continue to seek out beautiful styling with sexy silhouettes that encourage women of all shapes and sizes to embrace their beauty and curves. We will also continue to see great-feeling and great-fitting fabrications with both bright and bold colors making way alongside more classical colors or pieces.”

Seven ’til Midnight’s Lisa Tran says, “[Plus size] is a relevant and growing category that is trending towards the younger generation with customers looking for the same styles that are offered in regular sizes in the plus size category.”