Fashion plus for big men
Chris Cyr doesn’t like much about the big and tall clothes he finds in stores: They’re “not very adventurous,” he says, and the fit can be too baggy. And then there’s the array of odd prints: “A lot of Hawaiian shirts with sailboats and golf balls tend to pop in.”
But the standup comic from St. Louis says he is finding more fashionable threads for bigger guys online, as a crop of internet retailers are finally catering to the long-ignored group. The firms are making larger sizes of slim-cut jeans, bomber jackets and other trendy clothes that shoppers say are hard to find elsewhere.
Bigger-sized models are used when designing the clothes, which the companies say helps make sure the proportions are right. Rather than just making a pair of jeans larger, for example, they also adjust the back pockets and other details.
Asos, the hip online clothing seller, launched a line for plus-sized men late last year. MVP Collections, founded a year ago, sells velour hoodies in sizes up to 6XL and motorcycle jeans that go up to a size 54. And The Winston Box, which calls itself a clothing subscription service “for guys with some junk in the trunk,” sends up to four items a month to members.
“There’s a lot more options,” says Cyr. He pays $75 a month for The Winston Box, and says the 3XL shirts he receives fit better than what he finds elsewhere. He also recently bought a blazer from Asos that he wears to his standup shows.
Men have long had big-and-tall shops to turn to, but young shoppers say they don’t find the trendy clothes they crave there. Kyle Gammon, a college fashion student who lives near Savannah, Georgia, says Asos has become his go-to after he discovered its plus-size line earlier this year. While fit can sometimes be a question for anyone buying online, Gammon has bought a couple of print shirts from the site. He likes the way they fit, giving him just enough room around his midsection without a lot of extra fabric in the arms. He’s also a fan of the colors and styles the site offers.
“They have a really good variety,” says Gammon, “which I’m not used to getting.”
Former baseball player Mo Vaughn, who co-founded MVP Collections, says he could find T-shirts and suits in his size in stores, but nothing in between. Now his company sells items such as gray sport jackets and deconstructed jeans made with a bit of spandex for stretch.
“Why can’t we be fly like everybody else?” Vaughn says.
Daniel Franzese, an actor who starred in “Mean Girls,” joined The Winston Box as creative director earlier this year after seeing an ad for the company on Facebook. He says stylists often had trouble finding clothes for him to wear for TV roles or for red carpet events.
“Fashion forgets about the bigger male,” Franzese says.
That’s still generally true, even with the new options. Several market research firms said they didn’t track or have estimates of the value of the men’s big-and-tall clothing market. And startups say that to promote their brands, they go to conventions and events around the country aimed at curvy or plus-size women — because there aren’t any for big men.
Diana Smith, a retail and apparel analyst at research group Mintel, expects that to change. She says the high obesity rate, plus an increase in the number of men who care about how they dress, will increase the demand for big-sized men’s clothing. She says the success of women’s plus-size clothing, which, according to NPD Group, had sales of $20.6 billion in the last year, also helps.
“There’s a lot of buying power there,” says Smith.
At Asos, it was the positive feedback from its women’s plus-size line launched about eight years ago that pushed the company to create one for men, says head designer Nick Eley. Asos says about 15 percent of its men’s line is now available in bigger sizes, and it expects to increase that percentage. About 30 brands, such as Puma and Tommy Hilfiger, also make big and tall sizes for the site.
“I honestly don’t know why it’s been a forgotten market for so long,” says Eley.
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