Updated on July 7th, 2023 at 05:22 pm

When you are out shopping for clothes, you’ll realize plus-size clothes are significantly more expensive than regular-sized clothes. This has been the pricing norm for years that now needs explaining. So, why are plus-size clothes so expensive?

Plus-sized clothing costs more to produce. Since it is larger, extra fabric is used, leading to more waste. Current manufacturing processes do not accommodate for the production of plus-size clothing. As such, alterations must be made to the machinery, which increases the price.

This is the unpopular explanation peddled by the fashion industry. So, let’s dig deeper and see if there’s truth to this and what to expect going forward.

What is a fat tax?

It is the difference in cost specifically for plus-sized consumers. Most retail stores and websites carrying plus-size clothing charge $3-$5 more for plus-size clothing despite being exact replicas of straight sizes.

image of plus-size-clothing-price - Extra Large LivingUnfortunately, the fat tax doesn’t stop in fashion. Here are examples where plus-sized consumers have to deal with it:

  • Despite having ‘passenger of size’ policies, heavier passengers often pay for the extra space. Airplane seats are designed with one body type in mind, which doesn’t quite cover everyone. Alaska Airlines’ ‘passenger of size policy’ requires heavier passengers to pay for extra seating if they cannot comfortably fit in one seat with the armrest down. On the other hand, United Airlines requires passengers flying economy who cannot comfortably and safely occupy one seat to purchase an extra seat.
  • Popular and affordable furniture isn’t built with plus sizes in mind. As such, they end up buying expensive Heavy duty furniture to get the support and comfort they need. The same is true with budget-friendly bikes. So often, big riders have to part with up to $800 extra to get a quality bicycle for overweight women.
  • Even in death, larger persons pay more for a decent send-off as larger caskets cost more.

Should plus-size clothes cost more?

No, they shouldn’t. And the idea that more fabric means more money doesn’t add up because sizes 0-6 often cost the same. When buying shoes, you notice that larger sizes have the same pricing as smaller sizes. This is because the shoe brands in the industry don’t discriminate against feet size.

The solution to fat tax in plus size fashion is simple and easy to implement – take the cost of small, straight, and larger sizes and average it throughout the different sizes so that every person pays the same for the same garments as they do with shoes.

This way, women with larger bodies aren’t fat-taxed for the failure of companies to include them in the manufacturing process.

Should clothing prices vary by size?

No, they shouldn’t.

Clothing prices should not vary by size. Fabric makes up only a small portion of the overall manufacturing cost. Other expenses that fashion designers and retailers incur are shipping and marketing, which can be quite high. It’s also worth noting that plus-size clothing for men and women varies greatly.

Men’s plus size clothing starts from size 44″ while in women’s clothing, it is either from a size 14 or size 16. With that said, the difference in fabric for a size 50″ and size 58″ suit is large in comparison to that between size 8 and size 14 in female workout clothing.

The cost of fabric for men’s suits can be between $20 and $40 a yard or even more, depending on the type of pattern used. Stretch fabrics are between $10 and $20 a yard. Since companies buy in bulk, they receive several discounts, so this should reflect in their sales.

With little difference in fabric cost, it doesn’t make sense to charge more money for large sizes than straight sizes. Moreover, most plus-size clothes are basic, and brands use ordinary materials, which doesn’t match the market’s premium pricing.

Bottom line

To be fair, just like women wearing sizes 00, 6, 10, or 14 all pay the same price for clothing, women with larger sizes should too. It’s about time that straight-sized women stop feeling entitled to cheaper clothing than their larger counterparts.

Moreover, it’s time for designers to stop applying fat tax as part of their process when they consciously decide to exclude larger people from their design and manufacturing process. For more information be sure to check out Extra Large Living.

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