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H&M Brings Bigger Sizes Into Stores

H&M recruited popular plus-size influencer Tess Holliday to promote its newly expanded extended-size range.   

The Swedish fast-fashion retailer now sells clothing that goes up to 2XL in stores for women (up to 4XL online) and up to 3XL for men.

H&M brought in Holliday as its size and inclusivity consultant to help the & Other Stories parent effectively address plus-size consumers, improve inclusivity and promote diversity, from design ideas and product development to marketing and communications.

“H&M embraces inclusion as a business imperative. H&M’s evolution and progress on extended sizing reflects our commitment and focuses on challenges faced, progress made and more progress to come,” Donna Dozier Gordon, H&M’s head of inclusion and diversity for region Americas, said. “We are proud to be working with [Holliday], who has been instrumental in helping us ensure we are delivering an inclusive customer offering and experience.”

Holliday has been working for months in H&M’s local U.S. Content Studio, providing feedback during model castings and on best practices for photoshoots—impacting not only that the extended sizes were, in fact, extended, but also flattering.

Holliday working behind the scenes. Courtesy

“Fashion should be accessible and inclusive,” Holliday said. “Throughout my career, I have strived to make impactful changes to the plus-size industry in real, lasting ways. Together with H&M U.S., we are democratizing the fashion industry here in the U.S., creating a runway for customers to experience shopping that’s an equalizer, not a divider. I’m thrilled to step into this role and continue showing everyone that plus size fashion doesn’t mean sacrificing style.”

News of H&M’s work with Holliday comes after the retailer recently introduced “Curvy Denim,” a collection sized to focus on fit and shape “instead of size,” and catering to a curvier body shape by including more room in the hips and thighs and features a longer rise.

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“We are constantly listening to our customers, paying close attention to what it is they want to best serve them, which is why we started our extended size journey in 2018,” a spokesperson for H&M told Sourcing Journal. “Since then, products have slowly been rolling out, and now in 2023 we are thrilled to offer a more robust assortment with sizes ranging from XS-2XL and XS-4XL online.”

H&M is angling for share in the global plus-size women’s clothing market whose value is expected to approach $265 billion by 2027, per Credence Research. About two-thirds of U.S. women wear a size 16 or larger, making plus-size apparel one of the fastest-growing segments in the industry as a whole. And, according to Ibis World, the number of businesses in the plus-size women’s clothing industry in the U.S. has grown 2.4 percent per year on average over the five years between 2018 and 2023, with the plus-size women’s apparel market generating 19 percent of the U.S. apparel markets overall sales, according to Statista.

But not every brand that’s tried to cash in on the body positivity movement has found success, particularly in navigating the IRL versus URL space.

In 2018, Old Navy brought plus-size clothing to stores at price parity after relegating extended sizes to dot-com since 2007. The Gap Inc. brand’s “Bodequality” launch in August 2021 was expected to help the affordable fashion seller reach $10 billion in annual sales by this year. But in May, the mass retailer said it cut back on the program when people weren’t buying the bigger sizes in stores. Calling it a “realigning of store inventory,” Old Navy pulled extended sizes from 75 U.S. and 15 Canadian stores but kept the clothes online.

Also in August 2021, Mango integrated its plus-size line into its general women’s assortment and extended its range of sizes overall. The Spanish fast-fashion retailer’s Violeta by Mango imprint was launched online, but a selection of garments only up to size 54 (XL) was available in Mango Woman stores.