Let's get one thing out the way. Your average woman is not a size 2 or 4. In fact, your plus size woman makes up about 67% of women. As a larger size demographic grows, so should big brand apparel options. And, while we're not completely sure why it's taken so long to embrace this portion of the population, one of our favorite brands is continuing to think outside of the box and embrace a mentality rich in equality.
While the brand has offered plus sizes for a while now, they announced late last year that they'd be expanding the range of clothing available for women in sizes 1X through 3X to over 85 products during the 2016 holiday season. This spring, Nike upped the ante with about 200 items for plus size women that span across running, training, and sportswear. But, this isn't just about sizing. It's about performance and crafting pieces that fit, flatter, and free motion with limited distraction for EVERYONE. Because, no matter if you're a size 2 or a size 20, working out in something that doesn't fit well doesn't really help you perform your best. That, we can all agree on.
That said, it's surprising how many people aren't aware of this shift in Nike's sportswear trajectory. We thought it would be an awesome idea to fill you in on what's been happening in Portland these last few months, what the world is saying, and what women - who actually fit this consumer group - REALLY think about Nike's Plus performance.
Within the first quarter of this year, Nike unveiled a game changer. The Nike Plus Line for women. The line consisted of active wear and athleisure options offered in expanded sizing (1X to 3X) and bra sizing up to 38E. There seemed to be hints of a potential Plus Size line surfacing after Nike posted on Instagram last year using a Plus Size model. Although, it didn't happen right away, the voices were heard and the Swoosh delivered. The line offers an assortment of products ranging from tops, sports bras, leggings, shorts and more. Why should plus size women have to wear oversized t-shirts to workout when they can wear their favorite brands? Nike+ does more than offer a standard black slimming pair of leggings. They have added pops of color and prints for those ladies who love to be vibrant wherever they are rather it be the gym or the streets. The campaign highlighted the Nike+ Line as active wear in simple photos with emphasis on the clothes and also in urban settings giving focus to the importance of athleisure.
Unfortunately, you can't make everyone happpy. Social media began buzzing with comments about Nike's decision to expand sizing. Internet trolls came right on cue to offer unnecessary backlash. Some people felt Nike was promoting an "unhealthy lifestyle" by offering bigger sizes. Their argument consisted of the stance that Nike was an athletic line and should cater to the healthy, active lifestyle. Folks, ignorance is not bliss. A healthy lifestyle can not only be determined by body shape and weight. A woman's body composition is based on different factors and are not specific to a cookie-cutter formula. Nike understood this when creating the collection as VP of Women’s Training Apparel Helen Boucher stated, “ When we design for plus size, we aren’t just proportionately making our products larger. That doesn’t work because as we know, everyone’s weight distributions is different.”
What I didn’t expect was seeing the negative comments from plus size women. Some felt the models did not depict a true "full size" and that the price point was too expensive. Nike is a top retailer and offering quality active wear is how their prices align with their product. Does society feel that only petite women are the ones exercising?
REAL WOMEN SPEAK.
Despite some of the negativity, there has been a substantial amount of positive feedback. So many women were excited that Nike would take the first leap as a big brand and expand sizing for their popular products. Plus size women around the globe raved about the different pieces of the collection and how they could be styled. We were able to connect with style and beauty influencer, Hayet Rida, about her thoughts on the line and what the pieces meant to her.
WHAT SHE NEEDED IN ATHLETIC WEAR/ATHLEISURE...
“When it comes to athletic wear, It is important that it is functional (hold my jelly together), but also look super cute. A lot of plus size clothing tends to be oversized with no fashion intention, so I have come to demand more stylish options from brands.”
ON ROCKIN’ ATHLETIC WEAR BEFORE THE NIKE+ LINE…
“I had my go-to brands, but I always felt like I was stuck with whatever they put out. It also seems very unfair to have no more than two options to find stylish clothing for working out, while smaller sized women have over 50 brands that cater to them.”
ON THE INITIAL DROP OF NIKE+…
“I was very very excited when I learned that Nike would be dropping a plus sized line. I have worn Nike for years and have always forced my way into their largest sizing. It felt like a long overdue gift!”
WHAT PIECES FEEL AMAZING?...
“The pants are my absolute favorite. The team really brought in the famed Nike technology and applied it to a different audience. I am also a very big fan of the jackets. They are functional, stylish and are truly designed with a different body in mind.”
HOW DO OTHER BRANDS LACK WHEN IT COMES TO REPRESENTATION FOR PLUS SIZE WOMEN?...
“It is very important that we start to see visibly plus sized women in ads. I love that brands are warming up to the idea of creating plus sized lines, but it goes against the aim when they use size 8 models to sell to size 16 women. We deserve to see women that look exactly like us in ads.”
THOUGHTS ON THE COMMENTS THAT NIKE+ IS PROMOTING AN “UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLE”…
“When I hear things like this, it absolutely breaks my heart because it is evident that the culture we live in continues to make generalizations based on appearance. So many plus women, including myself, are discriminated based on what we look like.”
HELLO, WE ARE REAL WOMEN…
“We are human, we breathe and have heart beats and all we want are clothes in our size. Is that too hard to accept?"
Other women have voiced their opinion and the common thread that tied all together was that as plus sized women they wanted to be represented well.
“Plus sized women work out too. Why can’t we be seen as athletic? We want to see campaigns representing us as athletes too, not just in an urban street style aesthetic.”
- Kixie Jixie, NY Sneaker Connoisseur
“It shows the world is changing and diversifying more and more. Nike Plus+ gives you a confidence that you can blend in with another smaller size woman and look just as good in your gear. I don’t want to be forced to purchase men’s clothes due to a lack of options for my size.”
- Courtney AKA Flashy Girl, OG Sneaker/Fashion Lover
CHANGING THE GAME.
The Nike+ Line is a major step in the right direction. It's more than just offering larger sizes for women. It is about allowing women to feel comfortable and feel great about themselves in everyday life. The Swoosh has been following through on multiple initiatives that reach all consumers. From the Equality campaign, Be True campaign, and Force is Female campaign - Nike wants to spread the message of diversity AND inclusion. Yes, they promote an active lifestyle but being active is not defined by size. If top brands are willing to be more open minded, we are hoping this creates a catalyst for change in our culture overall. We predict other top brands will follow suit and follow in the footsteps of continuing to diversify their own product lines. Recently, Puma launched a plus size offering in active wear with retailer Asos Curve. Will other brands open their eyes and see that tapping into this market is a necessity for the female consumer? Women are more confident than ever, and they should be because body acceptance is a vital component to being your best you. Great job, Nike.
Check out the awesome collection below.