Plus-Size Fashion: Bigger and Better

Fashion week is all about setting trends and this may be the newest, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Milller.

For the first time ever, "women with curves" have a catwalk to call their own.

"It's about time to see a runway show that reflects the diversity of size that is America," said Stephanie Sobel, president of OneStopPlus.com told CBS News.

The cyber-retailer OneStopPlus.com featured 18 of America's top plus-sized models, including eight-year veteran Lizzie Miller, in her New York City runway debut.

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"I think it is about time for normal everyday women to see clothes on women that look like them," said Miller.

And everyday men and women seem to agree.

"I love my curves," said one woman. "They aren't going anywhere."

"It's just something to hold onto, you know what I mean?" said a man.

"You don't have to be a size 6 to be beautiful," said Miller.

In fact, most women aren't anywhere near a size 6. Sixty-seven percent-- 75 million American women -- are so-called plus-size: a size 14 or larger. And only 17 percent of women's apparel is made for them.

"Big girls like myself, we have a hard time finding trendy clothes to wear," is a line spoken by actress Mo'Nique in the 2006 movie "Phat Girlz."

But that's changing.

Plus-sized clothing sales are expected to increase by more than 13 percent through 2014. That's $4 billion up for grabs. The recession has created a business opportunity.

"We've got reality meeting necessity of, fashion industry struggling, needing new business and recognizing that there is a plus-size woman out there, who in some ways getting plusser," said Wendy Liebmann of WSL Strategic Retail.

Fuller figures are starring in hit TV series and gracing the covers of top fashion magazines. October's issue of Elle features actress Gabourey Sidebe.

"Someone like me was never on the cover when I was younger," said Sidebe.

And larger women once relegated to the "plus-size department" can now shop through many stores.

For retailer JC Penney, that marketing's paying off. Though store manager Joie Johnston won't give specifics, she says plus-size sales are doing better than sales in the rest of the store.

"We've hit what the customer wants," said Johnston. "Finally we're giving them that fashion item that they've been looking for."

And some high-end designers are catching on. Full-figured women demanded attention. Now, they're getting it.
  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.

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