India’s plus-size fashion scene is catching on

India’s weight situation is escalating.
India’s weight situation is escalating.
Image: Reuters / Danish Siddiqui
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India’s niche plus-size retail industry is, excuse the pun, expanding. As the country’s rates of obesity and weight gain have gone up, so has the market for larger clothing, and the interest from foreign and local retailers. Most recently, Italian luxury suit maker Corneliani has started a tailoring service to make its $2,000 suits accomodate Indian gentlemen of larger mid-sections.

The service is popular with politicians, businessmen, and heftier celebrities. But less expensive brands are also catering to the growing girth of India’s middle class. Nearly a third of India’s adult men will be overweight by 2015, according to World Health Organization estimates. Already 64% of women living in cities were overweight and are raising new generations of obese children, according to India’s National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation. (To note: almost a third of India’s total population is still living in poverty, many of them underweight.)

As a result, more stores in Indian cities are offering larger clothing sizes. Examples include retailers like Biba, Mustard, and Pantaloon. Bigger is catching on in lingerie as well, one of the fastest growing retail segments in India. Online retailer has started selling plus-size underwear. Last year, Marks & Spencer said it saw India’s plus-size shoppers as a segment with strong potential (paywall).

But the oversize clothing industry is still in its infancy. India’s booming market for branded clothes is expected to more than double to $18 billion over the next four years. Plus-size clothing makes up an estimated Rs110 billion ($1.8 billion), consultancy Technopak told the Times of India last year.