Plus-Size Dresses in Australia

There’s an undeniable market opportunity in the Australian plus-size market. Question is, how are fast fashion brands reacting to this lucrative segment? This report takes a closer look at the current landscape - and how Australian retailers and brands can tap into this growing demographic.

By Atiqah

Download Report

Introduction

According to IBISWorld study, the plus-size market in Australia is expected to reach USD1 billion in 2019. The growing rate of obesity in the country, whereby close to 70% of the population age 18 and above are expected to be overweight in 2019 would further contribute to the growth of the segment.

Over the past few years, the fashion industry has been embracing the body positivity movement as seen on the runways, ads and campaigns. From Christian Soriano’s runway shows to Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty lingerie line, many have come to celebrate the diversity and inclusivity in fashion. However, how fast do clothing retailers react to this thriving industry?

In this report, we reviewed ten plus-size brands retailing on The Iconic in Australia, to have an overview of how the plus-size market fare in the biggest and most popular category – dresses.

More than 2,000 data points were analysed over the Fall/Winter 2019 season from March to August, on the following brands:

 

  1. Atmos&Here Curvy
  2. Missguided Curvy
  3. DP Curve
  4. Tussah Curve
  5. Evans
  6. Calli Curve
  7. Lost Ink Plus
  8. Estelle
  9. Advocado Plus
  10. Hope & Harvest

 

Brand Performance Overview

Dresses was the main volume driver, commanding 34% of the new-in assortment, followed by Tops (24%) and Outerwear (18%).

Brand Performance

Out of the 10 brands analysed, 6 cater to both regular and plus-sizes. Overall, the regular-line had nearly 6x more SKUs than the plus-size line but with similar percentage of discounted products. However, the plus-size range had a much higher sell-out rate compared to the regular-line (73% vs. 59%), indicating a strong demand for plus-size clothing.

 

Winners

DP Curve performed strongly during the season with lower than average discounted items, yet garnering above average sell-out rates on both total and full price.

Despite achieving a below average total sell-out rate, Atmos&Here Curvy, which had 3x more assortment than other brands performed well at full price. Available exclusively on The Iconic, the brand was also active in introducing new arrivals during the season.

 

Losers

Evans not only failed to drive high sell-outs (even with the help of high discounted items), but was also one of the brands with the least newness. On the flip side, while Hope & Harvest and Lost Ink Plus achieved high sell-outs, they were highly driven by discounts. Advocado Plus also performed poorly, registering the lowest sell-out rate despite having only 29 SKUs.

 

 

Key Subcategories & Styles

New-In Assortment by Subcategory

Wrap Dresses was the volume driver, contributing for 30% of the newness, followed by Swing & Trapeze Dresses (17%), and Shirt Dresses (12%). These three subcategories also commanded the top three subcategories in the entire dress assortment, signalling key core offerings in plus-size dresses.

 

New-In Styles

The key styles spotted this season among the brands in focus included animal prints, romantic florals and belted waist.

Similar to the regular-line, animal prints were particularly popular, taking over the fall/winter season with 16% contribution of total newness. The classic leopard print still reigned supreme but snake and zebra prints also showed signs of increasing popularity. Among brands popularising these wild prints included Atmos&Here Curvy, Missguided Curve and Evans.

Florals, synonymous with the warmer season, were also favoured this season as it took up 13% of the entire new-in assortment. The romantic print appeared in bigger and bolder design, mostly carried by Missguided Curve and Estelle.

Belted or cinched waist continued to be a popular design for plus-size dresses as it saw a significant contribution in both new arrivals and sell-outs. Atmos&Here Curvy, DP Curve and Missguided Curve were among the advocates of this figure flattering silhouette, which appeared in the form of Wrap Dresses.

 

 

Colour Performance Analysis

Core Colours

The core colours – black, blue, grey and brown – accounted for nearly 70% of the plus-size dresses’ total assortment, newness and sell-out during the period. Deep and darker hues were popular this season – with black unsurprisingly taking the lead, covering almost 40% of each metric.

Blue consistently took the second spot after black, indicating another popular colour for plus-size dresses. Dresses in blue mostly came in solid darker tones such as navy blue, taking up more than half of the colour’s contributions (Chart 8). Brown and grey, on the other hand, were mostly found in prints rather than solids, with animal prints such as the popular leopard print and snake print taking the lead.

Meanwhile, white was less popular during the season compared to the other core colours, especially for solids.

 

Fashion Colours

Similarly, darker shades also took precedence in fashion colours. Red was the most prominent fashion colour, as it appeared as the only fashion colour commanding a spot in the top 5 colours across all metrics. This signifies red to be a must-have fashion colour to invest across seasonality. Newness for this colour mostly comprised of shades such as burgundy and crimson red.

Other popular colours included pink and purple, which did well consistently in all metrics.

 

 

Bestsellers

As seen on Chart 3, Wrap Dresses was a key subcategory, evident in the bestsellers list. The silhouette appeared across all three trends spotted during the season – animal prints, romantic florals and belted waist. Atmos&Here Curvy and Missguided Curvy drove these key styles, mostly in midi and mini lengths.

Black and dark blue remained a popular choice among consumers, while brown was mostly favoured for animal print dresses. The bestselling shades of the key fashion colour, red, were mostly comprised of deep, autumnal shades such as crimson and burgundy.

 

Pricing Analysis

Overall, plus-size dresses and the regular-line were similarly priced with a mere 3% price difference.

The full price assortment for plus-size dresses were mostly concentrated between the AUD 40-80 range, though the most common range was at the AUD 70-80 price band (15%). However, AUD 50-60 was the sweet pricing spot as most of the sell-outs occurred at this price range, followed by AUD 60-70 and AUD 40-50. Consumers’ willingness to pay started to decrease beyond the AUD 80-90 price range.

 

Good-Better-Best Pricing

Deep diving into the pricing analysis through the Good-Better-Best strategy, the ‘good’ options for the most common category – Wrap Dresses, were priced from AUD 40-50. These dresses were mostly in solid colours and made of soft, stretchy jersey fabric with minimal detailing.

The ‘better’ pricing was AUD 50-70, which were comprised of printed mini and midi dresses in lightweight crepe, chiffon, woven fabric. These dresses had more detailing such as flared cuffs, draped fabric, ruffles and pleats.

The ‘best’ price tier was above AUD 80, which mostly consisted of dresses in luxe fabric such as lined satin with laces.

 

 

Discounting Strategy

Overall, the fall/winter season displayed a higher percentage of discounted dresses compared to the spring/summer season (74% vs. 55%). As depicted in Chart 7, higher concentration of products were discounted three times during the season, which were in March, May and August. Discounts were mostly on the early days of the week – Mondays and Tuesdays.

Discounts played a big role in pushing sell-outs during the period as more than 70% of sell-out occurred at discounted price. Out of the total discounted items, nearly half of them were marked down to 40-49% (Chart 8), signalling the most common discount range for plus-size dresses.

30-39% was also another popular discount range, which resulted in a 54% sell-out, followed by 50-59%.

Conclusion

Main Findings

High Demand for Plus-Size: Plus-size clothing has been regarded as a lucrative segment worldwide including Australia, but offerings in this segment were still lagging behind. Assortments carried out were not aggressively stocked and made available as much as the regular-line, which showed at least 6x smaller on average than the regular-line. Newness were also low as depicted by brands like Advocado Plus, Lost Ink Plus and Calli Curve yet items were highly discounted at an average of 74%.

However, the plus-size range evidently had a strong demand – with overall high sell-outs achieved by the brands carried by the biggest marketplace in the country. This indicates that there is a missed opportunity that has yet to be potentialised from both brands and retailer.

 

Trendy Offerings: The success seen on some brands such as DP Curve and Atmos&Here Curvy was largely attributed to their trendy offerings that were similar to the regular-line. Animal prints, which has been trending, dominated the plus-size range, further indicating that this demographic also demands similar trending styles as seen on the runway.

However, colours and silhouettes play an important role too in delivering the right assortment for plus-size range. Darker colours and flattering silhouette such as cinched waist, for instance, take precedence and are of higher demand across seasonality.

 

Next Steps for Brands

Evaluate Pricing: Getting the price right matters, as it captures the right audience and ultimately drives sales. Based on the data presented, besides investing more on must-have subcategories such as Wrap Dresses, brands should also monitor their pricing strategy to help them spot opportunities.

From Chart 6, AUD 50-60 was the sweet pricing spot for dresses but the offerings were still lacking. To avoid having to exercise deeper discounts to push sell-outs, brands could introduce more dresses in the lower tier of ‘better’ price range to fully take advantage of the potential sales.

 

Pay Attention to Data: With high demand from the plus-size market, investing in the right assortment would prove to be a massive success for brands.

Brands that have already invested in or about to launch the plus-size range would have the advantage, should they rely on real-time data analytics. Understanding the core subcategories or style, popular sizes, colours and the willingness to pay for consumers in this segment would further help brands in building the right assortment for this line.