Exploration of plus-size female teens' apparel fit and sizing in the United States
The purpose of this study was to investigate apparel issues experienced by plus-size female teens aged 12-17 in the context of the functional, expressive, and aesthetic (FEA) consumer needs model. The specific objectives were to: (1) Examine whether current American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) sizing categories meet the measurement needs of participants; (2) identify specific areas of the body where these individuals were not satisfied with the fit of their current ready-to-wear apparel; and (3) explore the current U.S. ready-to-wear apparel FEA needs for this target group.
Mixed-methods approach was used for this study with 30 female teens, representing six separate ethnic backgrounds, with body mass indexes in the overweight or obese categories. Data collection included 3D body scans to capture anthropometric body measurements and shape at 37 key apparel fit locations and interviews to obtain demographic information and in-depth responses from participants and family members.
Quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed, compared, and combined to corroborate findings. ASTM standardized sizes were compared to both individual and group averaged body measurements at 37 key locations to identify where differences existed. Body measurements, shape, and apparel size were examined, in combination with interviews, to determine participant's satisfaction with fit and the FEA attributes of their apparel. Participant characteristics were cross-tabulated with interview themes and subthemes using content analysis approach.
Findings revealed functional apparel fit needs with this group have not been addressed by the current ASTM standardized sizes. Additionally, their expressive and aesthetic desires have not been satisfied by the apparel available to them. Previously unidentified issues were uncovered: Use of maternity and male apparel for adequate ease, apparel purchased at resale stores or borrowed for better fit, and, plus-size teen's definition of apparel comfort. Participants also gave advice to industry to target this niche market.
The implications of this study include a need for a large scale study to update the anthropometric data of the U.S. teen population, size and style modification of apparel brands to capture the plus-size teen market, design curriculums that address the needs of niche markets, and continuous research with plus-size teen apparel needs.