Who says plus size women and men cannot dream of looking fashionable? Today there are designers' galore who cater to this segment, finds Sharmila Chand. IBNS | 2 years ago

Geeti Verma, 35, a successful entrepreneur in Mumbai has in her wardrobe only what she wears every single day: shapeless loose T-shirts and stretchable jeans. Her only shortcoming: she is overweight. She says she is quite fed up of hunting the right apparels for herself.

However, she and many like her need not be disheartened any more. With the rising demand in plus sizes, there are several clothing companies, labels and brands which have started catering to this segment.

There was a time when only the local tailors could stitch clothes for overweight people. It meant limited style and plenty of headaches, as one could not go to any store and pick what is latest in trend. Explaining any style to the tailor never got you anywhere, so one had to be satisfied with whatever was available. Well, that is history.

With the concept of plus size clothing gaining popularity, there are plenty of choices available in bigger sizes to cater to that segment of population which is no more considered in 'excess baggage' category.

There are certain Indian garment manufacturers who have come up with plus size stores. The most popular ones are Revolution, Pluss, Biba, Pantaloon, Just My Size, Just Your Size, etc. They have their own manufacturing units and are becoming very popular among urban Indians. Not only do they provide a variety of sizes (ranging from L to XXXXL), they also offer the latest trendy styles.

'Pluss' brand by Shiva International Apparels has many stores across the country catering to large sizes. Pluss's collection is both formal and casual and the focus is on practicality and comfort. "Pluss is for people who don't have that perfect figure, but we don't want to deprive them of wearing those funky, trendy clothes. We do not want to promote obesity in men and women but we want to promote good looks," says Sandeep Aggarwal, director, Pluss.

'Mustard' is another successful brand in plus size apparels with stores across India. The best part is they have very trendy Western styles including shirts, Tees, tunics, Jeans, trousers, capris, tights, skirts, even overcoats, jackets, pullovers and cardigans. They also have online buying facility.

'Xmex' - the Plus size fashion brand, is another well known name which envisions becoming a global company in Plus size fashion. Operating for more than a decade, it has presence in more than ten locations in different parts of India.

Says Nisha Somaia who started 'Revolution' in 2004 to fulfill her desire to wear something 'kinky', "What most stores get wrong is that they think fat people just need clothes to cover up. Looking stylish is not an option for them. How ridiculous!"

Somaia claims to have a customer base of almost 100,000 in Mumbai and Delhi One can pick up some trendy stuff here -halter tops, strapless blouses, and even sexy lingerie. "Women walk in here and are actually astonished and then a bit shy that they could actually look good in such clothing," she says, "They have been conditioned to think they can never look sexy."

Looking at India's niche plus-size retail industry expanding, the foreign brands too have jumped on the bandwagon to get their huge market pie. Italian luxury suit maker, Corneliani is one such. When the brand makers realised they were losing business in India for having failed to cater to happy 'Indian belly' gentlemen, they began a customised made-to-measure service that includes options for shoppers seeking "odd"-size suits, overcoats, or trousers. Soon they got their clientele queuing up and they once again became favourite amongst them.

The good news is that other luxury brands like Canali, Gucci and Giorgio Armani followed suit. They started offering made-to-measure suits in their Indian stores.

Similarly, online clothing retailer Myntra.com is focusing more on large-size apparel to meet the growing demand, says Ganesh Subramanian, its chief operating officer. "Particularly in dresses for women, there is always a demand for extra large sizes," he says.

Today, there are many designers who have been filling up the gap for this segment. Tina Vincent is credited to be one of the first designers in India who started designing for plus sized women and is successfully operating her store in Chennai. She understood the needs of this market and entered it 13 years ago. From bridal wear to westerns, Tina caters to all kinds of demand.

Chennai has seen another city designer, Satkrit Krishna, who has got into plus-size clothing. Of his clients, 30 to 40 per cent are plus size.
Thankfully these days women and men on the heavier side need not pick up clothes only from export surplus stores. Looking nice is not at all the hardest thing ever in this expanding market of plus sizes.

Hubert Givenchy, the famous designer, once said: "The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress." Rightly said!

(Posted on 10-08-2013)