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ChicGeek Comment – Do popularised weight-loss drugs like Ozempic signal the end of plus-sized fashion?

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There’s an elephant in the room and I’m not being insensitive. Much like sustainability, many fashion brands have gone quiet on inclusive sizing. A few of years ago, catwalks and fashion weeks were full of designers heralding the latest plus-sized model squeezed into their newest creation. Many designers seemed to have just put the ‘body inclusive’ models into the same samples and hoped for the best. The industry was too polite to criticise. 

More than 750 million people are living with obesity, which causes 5% of deaths globally, according to World Health Organization estimates.

For the SS24 show season, a Vogue Business size inclusivity report found 95.2 per cent of looks presented were in a straight-size (US 0-4). This is a slight improvement on AW23, where 95.6 per cent of looks were straight-size, 3.8 per cent were mid-size and 0.6 per cent were plus-size. A minuscule amount. Let’s see what plays out this AW24 season.

Some fashion brands like to pay lip service to a hot topic and then quietly shelve or unfulfill any pledges, while silently looking at any competitors and following them in either direction.

Fashion brands aren’t charities, though they often like to act like they are. They want to make money and increasing sizing ranges, increases costs and inventory. If you don’t sell enough of something, you probably won’t make it again. 

The demand for plus sizes in APAC will be significantly less than in the USA and Europe. This isn’t global sizing.

Then along comes a blockbuster drug like Ozempic. 

Celebrities, fashion and beauty editors are celebrating it like it’s the latest accessory and the results seem to be effective. Prescription semaglutide injections, commonly known as Ozempic, Rybelus and Wegovy are becoming household names.

Whenever somebody loses weight, the first question asked now is whether they used Ozempic or the like. Weight-loss drugs are in such demand that there’s a nationwide shortage of them on both sides of the Atlantic.

America is leading the charge on this trend. Research from Goldman Sachs projects 15 million adults in the US will be on anti-obesity medications by 2030, representing 13% penetration in the US adult population — not including diabetic patients.

For those people who are larger sized who care about their appearance enough to want to look fashionable, they will no doubt have thought about weight loss drugs like Ozempic or Wegovy. It’s a bit like a balding man who has thought about a hair transplant. It’s only natural, especially with the publicity and social media energy around it.

According to a 2023 KFF Health Tracking Poll, just four per cent of US adults say they are currently taking a prescription drug to lose weight and one in ten say they have previously taken prescription drugs for weight loss but are not currently using them, leaving about nine in ten adults (87%) who say they have never taken any prescription weight loss drugs. Six in 10 (59%) say they would be interested in a safe and effective weight-loss drug, including half (51%) of those who say they are trying to lose less than 10 pounds. Most adults (80%) say that insurance companies should cover the cost of weight loss drugs for adults who are overweight or obese, while half of adults (53%) say insurance should cover the cost of these drugs for anyone who wants them to lose weight. Government surveys show that as much as 40 per cent of the U.S. population meets the medical definition of obesity. These are huge numbers.

It’s worth remembering that not everybody cares about clothes or what they look like, regardless of size. Those people in the plus-sized category who do care, will probably choose to experiment with weight-loss drugs when they become more commonplace, affordable and the full side effects are known. These are the people who desire to buy clothes from brands.

Fashion brands are wobbly on size inclusivity at best. Add in the fast growth of effective and affordable weight-loss drugs and the commercial argument for entering the market is almost non-existent.

Read TheChicGeek’s other expert Comments – Here

Comment, Inclusivity, Over Sized, Ozempic, Rybelus, Vogue Business, Wegovy