The collection is the latest in an outpouring of fashions aimed at trend-driven, round-figured teenagers and young women, a population that has long echoed Ms. Ditto’s complaint that it is ignored by most merchants and brands.
Other stores and designers have picked up the message. Forever 21, a purveyor of cheap chic, introduced its plus-size line, Faith 21, this spring. Target recently began offering Pure Energy, exuberantly patterned dresses and tops for young women. Those follow hip niche labels like Karen Kane and Kiyonna, which are sold at boutiques.
All the lines see potential profit in offering stylish alternatives to the ubiquitous track suit. From a business perspective, that makes sense: the customer base is increasing, as health authorities have long pointed out. Some 17 percent of teenagers are overweight, according to the surgeon general’s office, more than three times the rate of a generation ago.
The market for youth-oriented plus sizes (usually 14 to 24) showed strong growth a couple of years ago, several years after the fast-fashion chain H&M entered the business. (H&M has since dropped its plus-size line, for reasons it would not disclose.)
With consumer spending falling everywhere, that momentum has been lost: Sales declined 15.3 percent for plus-size shoppers 13 to 17 and 10.1 percent for those 18 to 34 in April and May, compared with the period a year ago, NPD says.
Faith 21 was introduced “because our customers were asking for larger sizes, and to fill a void in the market for trendy and fashionable plus-size clothing,” said Linda Chang, the senior manager of marketing for Forever 21. It includes some 250 styles.
Smaller stores are also catering to shoppers who want figure-hugging fashions like their thinner friends. “Some of those girls feel like they have the brio to pull off a fitted look,” said Stephanie Sack, the owner of Vive la Femme, a plus-size boutique on fashionable Damen Avenue in Chicago. She confided that when she was 20, “I would have choked somebody to get my hand on a studded belt to fit me.”
Round-figured young women have found inspiration in popular culture. Ms. Ditto, who settled her girth on tiny gilt chairs at some 10 fashion shows this year, along with the actress Jennifer Hudson and the singer Adele, all appear in full-figured glory in the current issue of Elle.