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Size inclusivity has yet to make waves in activewear

By Robyn Turk


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Size inclusivity in womenswear apparel is expanding, yet the growing activewear sector still seems to be behind the curve, despite its growth. As the so-called “Goop effect” brought on by Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site piqued consumer interest in discovering wellness trends and health-focused options, the activewear market has grown to now represent 22 percent of the apparel industry’s sales, according to research from the NPD Group.

Brands in the size-inclusive market haven’t neglected to take part in the athletic wear trend, as American brands in the sector increased their activewear products by 77 percent in 2018, compared to product offerings in 2017.

While it would seem these figures are positive, an analysis of trends and retail availability conducted by Edited shows that there is still a discrepancy between activewear styles available for women under a size 14 and those for women over 14.

Workout leggings for sizes over a 14 cost an average of 16 dollars less than those in standard sizing, yet this represents the fact that the trends and styles offered to women in higher sizes are less fashion-forward.

“The average size of American women is a size 14, and more than 67 percent of women are a size 14 or above,” said Alexandra Waldman, the co-founder of size inclusive brand Universal Standard.

Waldman and her brand work to help the industry realize that options for women over a size 14 are not equal to options for women in standard sizing.

Retailers aren’t stocking appropriate trends and styles in plus size workout leggings. Major trends in workout leggings tend to be colors like whites and neutrals, and simple stripe or graphic prints. However, plus-size options push colors like pink and purple, and floral prints.

Size inclusive activewear is a crucial opportunity for brands

The global market for fitness clothing is expected to reach 231.7 billion dollars by 2024, with plus size women’s clothing representing 21 billion dollars of that total. Size inclusive activewear presents a strong opportunity for brands and retailers to reach a broader consumer base.

“More than half of women in America are completely ignored by fashion, and it’s time for the industry to take note,” Waldman said. When popular brands have turn to size inclusive solutions, consumers pay attention. In the past year, brands including Nike, Kohl’s, Reformation and Loft extended its sizing either throughout their line or through inclusive capsule collections.

Universal Standard partnered with both J.Crew and Goop this past year to help the brands extend sizing to consumers who might not have been able to shop the brands’ collections previously.

“We hope that we are moving into a world that is more inclusive, more open and gives a larger voice to women,” Waldman said of the Goop collaboration. “The end goal is an industry that is fully size inclusive, where no woman is excluded from any brand because of her size.”

Photo: courtesy of Universal Standard

Size inclusivity
Universal Standard