Apparel Product Development for Plus-sized Tween and Teen Boys Year One Research

NTC Project: SO6-AC03
Apparel Product Development for
Plus-sized Tween and Teen Boys
Lenda Jo Connell, Pamela Ulrich, co-leaders;
Karla Simmons,David Pascoe (Auburn) ,David
Bruner [TC]²
Tween boys are a viable market
commanding a significant market presence,
but there is little research in the public
domain to support apparel product
development for them. According to The
U.S. Tween Market, a new research report
published by Packaged Facts and available
through, the spending
power of this cohort totals about $40 billion.
Another report estimates that the 15 million
tween boys in the United States currently
spend $20 billion a year. Statistics indicate a
large number of boys in this age range fall
outside the normal size category and that
they constitute a growing niche market.
NPD reported that the kid’s plus-size
apparel industry has grown to be about $3
billion a year or about 12 percent of the
overall children’s clothing market (Thirteen
Hot Businesses for 2005, 2004).
This study defines tween boys as between
the ages of 9-14 and focuses on defining
sizing and clothing preferences across the
range of the market. Objectives for the
research are as follows:
● physical and psychological
characteristics of young boys aged 9-14
● market potential for developing apparel
products for this niche market
● and sizing categories based the range of
sizes discovered from 3D body scans.
It extends and enlarges the range of the
current NTC research project, S04-AC01,
exploring product development and sizing
issues for tween and teen girls.
Year One Research
During the first year of this project a series
of eight focus groups were completed as
● 9-11 Normal Size Boys and Mothers
● 9-11 Plus-size Boys and Mothers
● 12-14 Normal Size Boys and Mothers
● 12-14 Plus-size Boys and Mothers
Mothers and boys were interviewed in
separate focus groups with each group
having 8-12 participants with a total of 44
boys across all groups. Focus groups were
completed in December, 2006. Size
groupings for the boys were determined by
Body Mass Index (BMI) guidelines for boys
approved by the U.S. Center for Disease
Control. Boys were defined as overweight or
at risk of being overweight when their BMI
scores reached the level of at least the 85th
percentile in their age category.
Before the focus groups began, boys and
their mothers were body scanned using a
[TC]² NX 12 Body Scanner. Both mother
and son completed a questionnaire probing
body image and attractiveness issues,
feelings about clothing, and apparel
selection experiences. From a set of
drawings, boys were asked to identify their
current body image and their ideal body
image. Mothers were also asked to identify
the size closest to their son’s body and the
ideal body for that age (i.e. tween or adult).
Research by Pisut (2002), Alexander
(2003) and Simmons, Istook, and Devarajan
(2004) used body scan data to explore the
adult female body shape. Results showed a
distribution of varying body shapes
including hourglass, rectangular, and pearshaped figures could be found in the adult
National Textile Center Annual Report: June 2007
NTC Project: SO6-AC03
female population. A current NTC project
investigating young female tweens/teens
indicates a wide range of body
measurements and shapes exist within this
apparel category (Connell & Ulrich, 2005).
However, young males have not been
studied in a similar manner to understand
body shape and the breadth of body
measurements across the age category.
Body scans suggest a wide range of body
sizes and shapes exist among boys ages 914. Figure 1 shows the 3D body scans of 21
boys, 9-11years old with body sizes ranging
form normal to plus-size.
Boys 9-11 Normal/Plus-sized
olds. The older boys’ mean BMI was lower,
27.53, compared to 95th percentile BMIs of
24.2-26 for 12-14 year-olds.
Our study also explores the social and
psychological implications of body size and
shape for boys. Previous research found that
boys chose ideal figures that were
moderately but significantly heavier than
their perceptions of their own bodies,
supporting the idea that boys maturing
through puberty see increasing body mass as
desirable. This was true for three of our
groups. However, initial analysis of data
from boy’s responses to the questionnaire
used in the focus groups, indicates that when
plus-sized older boys rated their current
body size and their ideal body size on a 7point scale, on average, their average self
ratings were higher than their average ideal
Younger Normal —9-11
Younger Plus-sized—9-11
Figure 1: Scans of 9-11 Tween Boys in Normal and
Plus-sized BMI Range
Younger boys’ mean BMI was 16.58,
compared to 50th percentile BMIs of 16.217.2 for 9-11 year-olds. The mean for older
boys’, 19, compared to 50th percentile BMIs
of 17.8-19.2 for 12-14 year-olds. The mean
BMI scores for the two husky size groups
were above the CDC’s 95th percentile
definition of overweight. The younger boys’
mean BMI was 29.53, compared to 95th
percentile BMIs of 21.2-23.2 for 9-11 year-
Focus groups are being transcribed for
content analysis. Questionnaire responses
are being analyzed to understand apparel
preferences, shopping habits, and feelings
about having appropriate clothing.
Contributors: Graduate Students: Katie
Brock, Yukti Sancheti, Melissa Manuel,
Holly Skinner, Brooke Huddleston, Sarah
Helm, Angelina Calabro
Industry Interactions; Fit Logic
Technologies, [TC]², Jockey, Dillard’s, VF
Project website:
National Textile Center Annual Report: June 2007
NTC Project: SO6-AC03
Lenda Jo Connell, a Professor in
Consumer Affairs at Auburn,
joined the faculty in 1971 after
receiving a masters degree in
clothing and textiles from
Louisiana State Univ. In 1990, she
earned a Ed.D. in adult education
from Auburn. For 15 years she
was an Extension Resource
Management Specialist for the
textile and apparel industry and
now coordinates the Apparel
Production Management program. Her research interests
Include body shape analysis and apparel preference testing.
I92-A05*, I92-A06, I94A10T*, I94-A13, I95-A19*, I95-A20,
I98-A7, I98-A08*, I98-A09, S01-AC27*, S04-AC01*
[email protected] (334)-3789
Pamela V. Ulrich, an Associate
Professor in Consumer Affairs at
Auburn, joined the faculty in 1987.
Pam earned a Ph.D. in American
history from Univ. of Oregon in
1991 and a M.S. in clothing and
textiles from Auburn in 1980. Her
work experience includes
department store retailing. At
Auburn, she manages the Historic
Costume and Textile Collection.
Her research interests include
apparel fit and shape analysis, product development,
and historical change in textiles, apparel and retailing.
I92-A06, I92-A07, I95-A19, I95-A20, I98-A7*, I98-A08, I98A09, S01-AC27, S04-AC01*
[email protected] ((334)-8441336
David A. Bruner, Director of Technology
Development at [TC]², joined the staff in
1995. David earned a BS in mechanical
engineering from Univ. of Missouri Rolla
in 1983 and a Ph.D. in mechanical
engineering from Univ. of Kentucky in
1993, specializing in nonlinear finite
element analysis. For 12 years David
was in development engineering and
management at IBM (input devices and
notebook computers), Ericsson (cellular
telephones) and Brother Int. (ink jet products). His
research interests include full body scanning and
automatic measurement extraction software.
S01-AC27, F02-NS08, S04-AC01
[email protected]
David Pascoe, an Assistant
Professor in Health and
Auburn, joined the faculty in
1990 when he received a Ph.D.
degree in bioenergetics from
Ball State. Earlier he received
a M.A. from California StateFresno.
Dave's research
interests include physiological
evaluation of clothing systems
for heat and cold stress and thermography to identify
hazards due to protective clothing systems.
F92-G01, F95-S24, S01-AE32,
[email protected]
Karla Simmons, an Assistant
Affairs at Auburn, joined the
faculty in 2005 from the Univ.
of Missouri where she was an
Assistant Professor and site
for SizeUSA.
Karla earned a B.S. in 1992,
an M.S. in 1996 (both from
Auburn) and a Ph.D. in textile
and apparel technology and
management from NC State in 2002, then briefly
supervised the Automated Cutting Dept. at Oneita Ind.
Her research interests include 3-D body scanning
technology, apparel fit and sizing, and product
[email protected]
National Textile Center Annual Report: June 2007