Understanding Plus Size Fashion Segments

As plus size fashion becomes a more well-known and (soon-to-be) respectable section of the industry, so do the peculiarities and intricacies of fashion in general.

For example, 10 years ago, plus size clothing was grouped into one category, leaving us fashionistas with few, if any, alternatives for shopping and determining which things were “fashionable.” However, with the amalgamation (yeah, I had to use this word) and profusion of trends available in plus size apparel, one could easily become annoyed, puzzled, irritated, or flustered when looking for the perfect ensemble or piece of clothing.


We no longer have “one sort” of plus-size fashion option; we now have numerous. To better grasp and sort through the craziness, an aspiring fashionista must first learn what these emerging sectors are and how to identify them in order to buy smarter, not harder.

No, seriously… WHY?

You see, much like in the straight-sized market, various segments of fashion are clustered together, and you generally know what to expect when shopping from that merchant or group of retailers. The same is now true with the evolution of Plus Size Ready-to-Wear Fashion. For the sake of argument, we’ll group these categories for plus size fashion along with straight sized fashion to help explain price discrepancies and size differences in relation to a retailer’s or designer’s garment’s integrity and quality. Haute couture, luxury, modern, rapid fashion, and discount are the five segments of the fashion industry.

* Haute Couture: A derivative of the French term “high sewing,” haute couture is synonymous with “high fashion.” The term “haute couture” is a protected designation in France. Designers who achieve this elusive and much sought after designation create custom-made apparel for the world’s most powerful and wealthy people.
* Affluence: Pret-a-Porter, or “Ready to Wear,” is a step down from Haute Couture in terms of price and exclusivity, but it still caters to a well-heeled clientele.
* Contemporary: This fashion-forward section features mid-priced items that are both fashionable and high in quality. These designers frequently reinterpret haute styles, making them more accessible to the general public.
* Fast Fashion: A cost-effectively created product that delivers “high fashion-looking” clothing at the lowest possible price. Relates to how things from the runway are primarily created elsewhere with a quick turnaround.
* Discount: Often considered loss leaders, discount stores have quickly adapted to fast fashion concepts by leveraging their customers’ purchasing power and reputation to fashion exclusive designer collections.