How Ozempic is impacting fashion’s size curves

Anna-Louise McDougall
November 21, 2023
November 21, 2023
2 min

From luxury apparel to department stores and sportswear, the impact of weight-loss drugs like Ozempic is rippling through the industry’s buying behaviors and size ratios.

Pop culture’s favorite topic now has the research to prove its effects go far beyond body shape. If you consider that those on weight-loss and anti-obesity medications (AOMs) experience a 20-30 percent decrease in their daily calorie intake, coupled with the fact that 70 percent of the US population is overweight—the widespread access to these drugs means countless shrinking waistlines are just the beginning of Ozempic’s stronghold on society.

Hollywood to H&M

Morgan Stanley has predicted by 2035, 20 percent of the 133 million obese Americans will be using AOMs like Ozempic, and it’s not just fast food restaurants and grocery stores where the retail impacts are starting to show already. 

Ozempic and Wegovy are rapidly changing the face of the fashion industry, Hollywood—and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills—resulting in a rapid response by clothing retailers to match clothing trends, size preferences, and buying habits to supplement a mass-market ‘thinner’ lifestyle. 

Deutsche Bank analysts reported the weight loss boom will boost sportswear brands and clothing retailers, commenting the injectables could “provide a structural tailwind for the apparel industry that hasn’t been seen for some time.” According to Deutsche Bank, slimmer people will purchase smaller sizes and will be motivated to exercise more, identifying Adidas and Puma as potential beneficiaries, along with H&M and Zara. Further to this, research by Morgan Stanley revealed that 30 percent of surveyed consumers who take AOMs have bought more activewear since starting the drug.

The size diversity backflip

Is thin really in? The Y2K resurgence of the past few runway seasons had begun to wave the waif flag once more from the world’s most lauded fashion houses. An influx of low-rise denim, dangerously high skirt hems, minuscule crop tops and the late 90s minimalism best remembered on ‘heroine-chic’ models, wasn’t exactly what the body positivity movement had in mind.  

Even runway data says it’s not looking good for size inclusivity. Vogue Business reported the progression of plus sizes on the SS24 runway, and of the 9,584 looks across 230 shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris, 0.9 percent were plus-size (US 14+) and 3.9 percent were mid-size (US 6-12), leaving 95.2 percent of looks straight-sized (US 0-4). Only a 0.4 percent decrease on AW23.

Now, with Ozempic and AOMs prompting a 10 to 20 percent loss of body weight, the demand for plus sizes is set to decrease, as research shows those taking AOMs have started shopping less frequently at plus-size retailers. If fewer consumers are spending on larger sizes, particularly in the luxury space, this will inevitably trickle into department store OTBs and the size ratios will gradually be skewed towards smaller sizes. 

Keeping your curves in check

There’s no need to panic about your 2024 ranges; if your data is serving you correctly, you’ll be able to notice changes and patterns in size preferences from your customers well in advance and adapt accordingly. A market variable such as weight loss isn’t going to destroy your carefully constructed size curves overnight, but keeping an eye on your sizing data will help you uncover sales opportunities or curb potential overbuying. 

The key metrics informing current demand for your product are customer base growth, repurchase rate growth, sessions, conversion rate, average order value, demand and supply by category, price point, color and size, rate of sale when in stock as well as back-in-stock requests. 

With all these data points in order, you can assess demand forecasting to the best of your ability. You’ll be able to determine what your true sales potential of particular products and their sizes are, and whether you should invest in fringe sizes that the aforementioned external data might lead you to believe you need.

This is exactly why software such as Style Arcade exists; there’s never been a more auspicious time to get your sizing accurate.

Image credit: Cameron Bensley

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