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Torrid is a full-service apparel and accessories shop offering separates, denim, handbags and footwear.

STUART RAMSON/Associated Press

While some shoppers may struggle to locate garments in a specific style or colour, Ashlie Callender faces an even greater obstacle: finding clothes that will fit her curvy frame.

"Regular stores, they go up to extra large sometimes, and that's really like a [size] 10 maybe. So if it's a stretchy material, I can get away with it," said the college student, 24.

"I actually would like shopping, but all of my options are either for people who are really, really old, wearing dress pants all the time – and that's pretty much it. So I wish there was more."

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Callender joined dozens of shoppers who jammed Torrid's new location in Toronto's Eaton Centre for the grand opening of its first store outside of the United States.

Three more Torrid stores are set to open in the Toronto area this fall, joining homegrown plus-size retailers Addition Elle and Penningtons, both under the banner of Montreal-based Reitmans Canada Ltd.

The plus-size brand is already familiar to Canadians, who account for more than half of Torrid's international business online, said CEO Lisa Harper.

The retailer has more than 280 stores across the United States and ships to more than 150 countries. Torrid is a full-service apparel and accessories shop offering separates, denim, handbags and footwear.

Ms. Harper said the company expects to open about 10 stores in Canada in 2016, and has been eyeing British Columbia, Calgary and Edmonton as potential expansion sites.

While they don't yet have a Canadian-specific e-commerce site, Ms. Harper said they'll have an option for shoppers to ship items to stores at no additional cost.

Canadian prices will also initially be slightly higher to offset the exchange rate, she added.

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"We are very cautious about that, and it is not an across-the-board decision. It's really on an item-by-item basis …

"Obviously, we would hope that it would be for the short term," she added.

Torrid is seeking to help fill a sizable void in Canadian retail for full-figured consumers.

A 2013 report from the NPD Group found that plus sizes represent 32 per cent of the "special size" clothing category, which also includes tall, petite and junior.

Two-thirds of plus-size women reported shopping for larger clothes was more stressful than shopping for traditional sizes, with limited merchandise cited among the main causes.

"Coming from the wholesale side of the fashion business, you do have to pay a premium for clothes that are either plus-sized or petite," said Sandy Silva, director of fashion and beauty at the NPD Group.

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"Oftentimes you have to make a minimum order to have the garment produced, and I think that is a huge barrier to entry for this market in Canada."

Most national retailers that offer extending sizing have a "fairly basic assortment," she noted.

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