And in related news, here’s a growing market –furniture for very large people — as 68 percent of Americans are overweight and 34 percent obese.
While big-and-tall shops and plus-size stores have carved out attractive profits by catering to the sartorial needs of heavier consumers, the furniture market has largely ignored the growth in the American girth. Most U.S. armchairs, for example, are 20 to 26 inches in width, perfect for a slender frame, but too small for many customers nowadays. Meanwhile, dining room tables, beds and other standard furniture pieces are often too short, too narrow or too flimsy for plus-size users.
Although oversized furniture seems like a promising growth industry, it is also riddled with potential pitfalls. One difficulty lies in finding ways to sensitively market products to obese customers. Some online companies have decided that directness is the best policy: Oversize Furniture.com, for example, guarantees “Oversized Comfort,” and notes that its goal is “To bring joy to people and confidence to customers.” Meanwhile, Living XL is a bit more circumspect, promising to save its customers from “discomfort, frustration and inconvenience” with its products, which are targeted at “tall and plus-sized men and women.”
The best-positioned plus-size company may be Brylane Home. Originally a spinoff of Lane Bryant, it is currently owned by Redcats USA, a division of PPR, a French retail group. Although Brylane is no longer associated with Lane Bryant, the similarities between their names allows the online company to be a little more coy about its products and target clientele. In fact, Brylane’s website says the company is known as “America’s White Sale Catalog” — a year-round discount retailer.