• Home
  • News
  • Fashion
  • What's happening with the plus size men's fashion market?

What's happening with the plus size men's fashion market?

By Sylvana Lijbaart


Scroll down to read more


Plus size men on the catwalk. This image was created using artificial intelligence. Credits: Alicia Reyes Sarmiento/FashionUnited

The plus size fashion market is experiencing notable growth, which is reflected in a greater presence of plus size models in the campaigns and catwalks of many brands. However, a clear tendency prevails to exclusively represent plus-size women. This disparity begs the question: where are the plus-size men in today's men's fashion world? FashionUnited has investigated this question to shed light on the topic.

As we begin to delve deeper into the topic, it becomes evident how little data there is on the plus-size menswear market. This lack is surprising, especially considering that, according to Future Market Insight, male consumers lead the plus-size market. According to figures from this source, the global plus size market reached a value of 288 billion US dollars in 2023 and is expected to exceed 500 billion dollars by 2033.

Despite this, their presence on the catwalks is not only quite limited, but is even decreasing in number.

Vogue Business examined all 66 FW24 men's fashion shows from Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks, and what did they find? Of the 2,855 outfits presented in Milan and Paris, 98.3 percent of the models were a normative size. Only 1.5 percent of models wore a size in between, and plus-size men [over XL] accounted for just 0.2 percent. The proportion of models wearing medium or large sizes during the FW24 shows has decreased by -7.7 and -0.4 percent. To give you an idea: According to Vogue Business, only two Parisian shows — of the 66 held in Milan and Paris — featured at least one plus-size model. In comparison to the SS24 shows, there were 6 of the 72 shows and a previous season it turned out to be 8 of the 69 shows. Why aren't plus-size men given prominence?

Although plus size men are not yet normalized within the fashion industry, there are several fashion actors who are making an effort to give them visibility. Jordy Maarseveen, CEO of modeling agency New Generation Model Management, added plus-size men to his portfolio in 2022. "I am noticing a growing demand for plus-size male models and that, in my opinion, is a very good sign. We receive reservation requests mainly from big fashion brands."

New Generation Model Management has four plus-size men in its portfolio, however, the offering of plus-size women is much broader and has several pages on the website. According to Maarseveen, this is because plus-size male models remain scarce. "We can keep the men in our portfolio constantly busy. The only problem is that they often also have another job besides modeling."

The plus size menswear market: Does it need more attention?

According to fashion psychologist Anke Vermeer, we need to get back to basics: there is very little research on the impact of showing plus-size men on the catwalk, in fashion brands' campaigns or on social media. Vermeer sees research focusing primarily on women and the impact of body positivity on them, but also on the impact of social media on their self-image, eating disorders and self-confidence. "It's not that men don't have image issues, it just seems like researchers and [in this case] fashion brands don't pay much attention to them," she tells FashionUnited.

Their findings appear to be accurate, as when FashionUnited does research, almost all of the research focuses on women. Only a few highlight the male side of the story, such as research from KU Leuven into the impact of non-idealized role models in advertising campaigns on men. This study shows that men view themselves more positively when exposed to images showing different body types, compared to models with low body fat percentage and an athletic body. However, when a distinction is made between the diversity of body types, a man does not look more positive if he specifically sees a plus-size man in a campaign. The researchers conclude that having more diverse models and plus-size models in advertisements can have a positive effect on men's body image, while non-idealized models in campaigns, aimed at thin men, appear to be less successful. By showing more diverse models in your ads, you create a sense of recognition that creates a positive experience.

Although representation of various male body types is still sparse overall, it is sometimes addressed, whether directly or indirectly related to the fashion industry. For example, the German brewery Brlo Beer imitated Calvin Klein's SS24 campaign where Jeremy Allen White promotes new boxers. Brlo Beer filmed the campaign in the German capital where a larger, hairier man imitates Allen White and promotes a non-alcoholic beer.

Property of BRLO Beer.

“Plus-size men's fashion does not exist”: Experts explain what it's really like

Another reason plus-size men haven't come to the fore yet could be that, in general, men pay less attention than women when it comes to judging their bodies. In short: put more importance on other aspects of like, as experienced by sociologist Robert Gugutzer according to the German newspaper Zeit. This idea arises from the fact that men used to be accepted because there was something "more important" at stake: a social status, such as their profession, wealth, or fame. "Therefore, men did not have to worry about their bodies. The fuller man did not meet the beauty ideal, but the beauty ideal was not important," says Gugutzer. Men would focus on their careers, while women, on the other hand, have been struggling for centuries with accepting their bodies and fulfilling the beauty ideal. After all, women were economically dependent on men. If a man cared about his body, it would mean that he would lose control over his body by being exposed to the opinions of others. That goes against the status of male leadership, Gugutzer argues and is also described in the KU Leuven research.

According to Lauren Downing Peters, author of the book “Fashion Before Plus-Size; Bodies, Bias and the Birth of an Industry,” there is simply no such thing as plus-size men's fashion. "Men's fashion and specifically men's clothing production has always provided bodies with different shapes and sizes," she previously told FashionUnited. In British and American tailoring magazines from the 18th century to the early 20th century, tailors even boasted of their innovative techniques for providing suits for even the largest men in two hundred different sizes that took into account various proportions. "Body diversity was not perceived as a problem, but as an opportunity to showcase the craftsmanship of artisans. Categories were not created between the standard male body and the larger body."

"Tailors, especially those working at the highest level of the craft, considered all bodies to have what they called 'disproportions,' which could be corrected by the force of their tailoring skills. Whether it was a dropped shoulder, a hip unevenness or a prominent belly, they were all seen the same way," Downing Peters said. Therefore, consumers at the beginning of the 20th century were still challenged by retailers to experience the perfect match within the store. And that, according to Downing Peters, still happens in men's fashion today. "Men in our society are more forgiving of weight and size can often be a symbol of power or pride, even in line with athleticism if you think of an NFL linebacker [a defender in American football, ed. ] As with everything, women are subject to strict moral guidelines about what is an acceptable body."

The psychology behind the plus-size men's fashion market: Is focus on diversity necessary?

Whether plus-size men's fashion deserves special attention or not, it's clear that there's still a long way to go when it comes to normalizing bodies. According to some, special attention to plus size men's fashion is not necessary, while others are looking forward to it. Gugutzer suggests, according to the German newspaper Zeit, that men worry less about their appearance because their status is more important. Men don't have to meet a beauty ideal. Downing Peters adds that plus-size men's fashion simply doesn't exist. Men's fashion and tailoring have always offered space for bodies of various shapes and sizes. 'Disproportions', whether drooping shoulders or a bulging belly, have always been seen as an opportunity to use the skill of tailors and design new silhouettes.

According to Vermeer, men can also feel insecure just like women and we should not ignore that. The fashion psychologist particularly hopes that fashion brands will show more diversity in male body types in their advertisements and on the catwalk. "We should strive to make fashion a reflection of society. And plus-size men should be a part of that, too." According to Maarseveen, the plus size market is booming and that will also mean something good for men who are in this market. "I hope it's not temporary, but that this movement continues. Then it can only be very important. Everyone should feel seen and heard. This goes for everything, even the fashion industry."

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.NL, translated and edited to English.

Inclusive fashion
Plus Size