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Exploring apparel purchase issues with plus-size female teens

Laurel Dawn Romeo (Department of Textiles, Apparel Design, and Merchandising, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.)
Young-A Lee (Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA.)

Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management

ISSN: 1361-2026

Article publication date: 11 May 2015



The purpose of this paper is to explore apparel-related issues experienced by plus-size female teens around the functional, expressive, and aesthetic consumer needs model. The goal was to uncover any issues which have interfered with or restricted apparel purchases.


A mixed methods research design was employed to collect body measurements with the use of a 3D body scanner and conduct in-depth interviews with a convenience sample of 30 plus-size females aged 12-17 years and their families.


The current US sizing system does not fully meet the measurement needs of this study group. Functional fit requirements often dictate the apparel purchased by plus-size female teens. Expressive and aesthetic desires often go unfulfilled by the apparel that satisfied their functional needs. Confusion over apparel size designations interfered with brand and store loyalty and resulted in fewer purchases from both physical and online stores.

Practical implications

Plus-sizes are the fastest growing segment of apparel and offer brands and retailers substantial opportunity for market growth. Plus-size female teens desire to increase their apparel purchases, but have been hindered by certain product development and merchandising practices. Participants made suggestions for brands and retailers to increase sales in the plus-size female teen market.


This study is unique by uncovering previously unknown issues regarding apparel fit and purchase behaviors of the plus-size female teens as well as relating participant’s advice to the apparel industry on this target market.



This paper represents a partial discussion of findings from the dissertation “Exploration of plus-size female teens’ apparel fit and sizing in the United States” which was awarded the 2013 Research Excellence Award from Iowa State University, USA.


Romeo, L.D. and Lee, Y.-A. (2015), "Exploring apparel purchase issues with plus-size female teens", Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 120-135.



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