While you were sleeping in this Labor Day morning, the TODAY show was taking a look at a new retail trend in girls clothing. The increasing number of overweight children in the U.S. and the higher number of girls who are simply growing bigger and taller at a younger age has prompted more stores to carry “plus-size” girls clothing.
According to the report from the show’s consumer correspondent Janice Lieberman, larger-sized children’s clothing has always been around. And for boys, it’s typically called “husky.” But for young girls, finding stylish clothes is difficult. Sears, Gap, Children’s Place and other stores are responding to the need. Sears has a “Pretty Plus” line for girls between the ages of seven and 12. Other retailers are offering bigger sizing for girls as young as three, most of it online.
In the studio interview, Morgan Joseph, an 11-year-old who is already 5′ 9″ tall, talked about the troubles she’s had shopping for clothes, noting that she even had a problem finding an outfit to wear on the show that would fit and be “age appropriate.” Sitting beside her mother Sharon, she said she plans on launching her own line of clothing.
“I don’t want [other kids] to go through what I had to go through,” she said at one point.
She also has a problem with the term “plus size.”
“I don’t really enjoy the word ‘plus,’” she said. “I think there should just be numbers like they do for other kids.”
With back-to-school shopping happening later this year, there are probably a lot of parents out there still grappling with this issue as well. Across all age groups, retailers have found value in selling plus-size clothing with more stores and brands — like H&M and The Limited — offering larger sizes. The Los Angeles Times quotes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says more than a third of Americans are obese and nearly two-thirds of women are overweight. At least half of women wear a size 14 or larger. As a result, this is a growing segment of the retail industry, with sales expected to reach about $7.5 billion this year.
Parents, schools and politicians are fighting the growing childhood obesity issue. School lunches coming under greater scrutiny and more emphasis being placed on exercise and the health problems that arise for children who’ve put on a lot of weight. But, as the segment shows, it’s not just an issue with obesity. Some kids just grow quickly.
Do you agree with Morgan that retailers should use a different term? Should “plus-size” clothing come under a different name?