What plus-size means for plus-size women: A mixed-methods approach


  • Deborah A. Christel President and CEO of Kade & Vos
  • Susan C. Williams Née Dunn Washington State University, Department of Apparel Merchandising, Design and Textile




plus-size, communication retail strategy, merchandising, narrative, mixed-methods, consumers, apparel, fashion, marketing


Western fashion is constantly evolving and in order to obtain notoriety, brands need to positively connect with consumers. Individuals who wear plus-sizes are acutely aware of their reduced clothing choices and rely on language cues to find clothing. Unfortunately, the categorisation of plus-size consumers is fraught with discord and frustration. Fashion communication should consider consumer needs and preferences. However, the language used to classify plus-size consumers has yet to be examined. Plus-size women were recruited online to rate twelve terms associated with plus-size women’s clothing. The survey collected a total of 324 responses of age, height, weight and ratings of terms used to classify plus-size apparel, such as Women’s, Curvy. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and analysis of variance to compare differences considering age and body mass. This study revealed 96% of the sample ranked the classification Women’s higher than Plus-Size. The study offers insights into how plus-size consumers view sizing communications. It also offers a useful ranking of terms that fashion companies can adopt to ensure they are communicating in language that the intended consumer prefers. This study contributes to research on social identity of clothing size, plus-size consumer experiences, and further validates the multidimensional challenges faced by plus-size consumers.




How to Cite

Christel, D. A., & Williams Née Dunn, S. C. (2018). What plus-size means for plus-size women: A mixed-methods approach. Studies in Communication Sciences, 18(2), 339–352. https://doi.org/10.24434/j.scoms.2018.02.009