Why 2019 Was Such An Incredible Year For Big and Tall Men

Why 2019 Was Such An Incredible Year For Big and Tall Men

Big and tall men continued to get more representation in 2019 and we’re not just talking clothing.

2019 was a big year for big and tall men. After years of plus size men asking, “What about us?” when it came to the extended sizes fashion market, their voices have finally been heard. 

Opening Image, Fullbeauty

Zack Miko, the first big and tall model signed to IMG’s Brawn division in 2016, had an amazing 2019, paving the way for a new wave of larger male models to emerge on the scene. 

These models may not have six-pack abs or chiseled bodies but they represent the everyday man, who comes in many shapes, heights and sizes. 

According to the NPD Group, a third of American men identify as either big, tall or big and tall, representing 10% of the U.S. menswear business.

While in the past, the industry thought thinner “perfect-looking” models were aspirational, the models we see today are inspirational. They’re inspiring men to love themselves as they are, while seeing how the clothing will actually fit on a larger body.

In 2016, Euromonitor predicted that menswear would contribute $39.7 billion in sales to the global apparel market. And with that, the need for larger models increased as well. 

Three years later, Miko has become a supermodel in his division, having been the first plus-size male model to work with an array of major brands such as Nordstrom, Target, Gap and DXL. 

And he’s not alone at IMG. The agency now has 7 models on their roster and are currently looking for more models to join its Brawn division. 

UK-based Bridge Models launched their own men’s division the same year IMG scooped up Miko. They now have added models such as actor Daniel Franzese (of the film “Mean Girls”), influencer Kelvin Davis of Notoriously Dapper and model Scott Bayliss to their board.

Bridge Models Director Charlotte Griffiths recently told The Guardian:

“We were talking a lot about how important it was to have women of a range of shapes and sizes and of different ethnicities, and I remember some people saying it was hypocrisy just to focus on diversity for women.

[The men’s market] has been around about three years and the women’s market has been around for 30 years. It’s really interesting to see that the demand is now 50/50 for us as an agency.”

Evidence of that demand was clear this year, with top agency Wilhelmina partnering with JC Penney on a big & tall model search for Shaquille O’Neal’s new menswear line with the retailer.

ASOS expanded on its men’s plus size range with not only its own in-house brand but also tapping brands such as Fila, Lacosse, Nike, Puma and Polo Ralph Lauren to offer larger sizes for men. Puma, for example, offers up to a size 6XL via ASOS. 

Photo, ASOS

DXL (Destination XL), which has been a key player in the big and tall menswear sector, offers major brands such as Brooks Brothers, Michael Kors, Columbia, Nautica and Vineyard Vines in sizes up to 6XL, while using visibly plus male models on their website.

Mark Albert, Vice-president of Creative at DXL told The Cut:

“The whole big-and-tall arena as far as models go — it seems to have made a turn in the last three years. We’ve used IMG for several years on a regular-size basis because they didn’t offer any Brawn sizing. It was refreshing when they started playing in that field.”

With more big and tall models on the scene, there has been an increase in male influencers as well. 

Just a few years ago, there were just a few of them such as Syed Sohail of The Prep Guy, Michael-Anthony Spearman of The Big Fashion Guy, Kavah King of Gentlemen’s Curb and Troy Solomon of A Bear Named Troy

Kavah King

Photo: Kirkland Hawes

Now with those veteran bloggers/influencers transitioned into other more prominent roles within the industry such as styling, acting and modeling, this has paved the way for others to come into the influencing space, which has become so diverse. 

Chubstr, a media outlet devoted to big and tall/plus-size men that launched in 2010, and its founder Bruce Sturgell, have seen firsthand how much the menswear sector has grown in the last decade with itself evolving from a style destination to now a key lifestyle resource.  

To accommodate that growth, Sturgell launched the Heavy Conversation Podcast in June 2018, where he and Bear Skn co-owner Jody Koenig discuss the issues many plus size people deal with daily. 

Sturgell has an essay in the new book The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat & Fierce about creating your own community and has also modeled for major brands this year, including campaigns alongside Miko. 

He told us:

“When I started Chubstr almost 10 years ago, I hoped to see better representation of plus size men in marketing, media, and popular culture. And I’ve seen so much change over the last decade. 

One of the biggest things I’ve seen, especially this year, is big & tall brands featuring plus-size male models with different body types. I’ve personally modeled for Bonobos, KingSize and DXL this year, and I’m a short and wide guy – not who you’d typically see in advertising campaigns and storefront windows across the country. It’s amazing to see someone like you reflected in media and marketing. 2019 has been a step in the right direction for men’s body-positive representation.”

With websites such as XL Tribe and Big Man Culture now on the scene, as well as movements like Men of Size and So Classic Gents Fashion XL that highlight plus size men’s style, there’s not only more clothing options and models but also places and communities online that big and tall men have access to.

So what’s next for Miko and his fellow big and tall male models in 2020?

Miko told The Cut this summer:

“Even for how much we’re working, there’s still no luxury brands who have even thought about using us.”

Surprise, surprise. He ends the year with a campaign with Dolce & Gabbana Man, where they now offer up to an Italian size 58, which translates to a size XXL in US sizing.

While some may feel that offering up to a size XXL is not a big move on their part, it’s a step in the right direction. Luxury brands are now paying attention and we’re certain Miko and other big and tall models will be ready to work, when they come a-knocking.

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What menswear brands would you like to see offer larger sizes? What do you think about the growth in big and tall men modeling? Follow us on social media and let us know: @plusmodelmagFacebook  |  Instagram  |  Twitter

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