The perfect pair of jeans seems to be like gold dust – precious and near impossible to come across. Famously being the hardest fashion item to find in the right size, the right fit or even in the right place, denim sizes have baffled shoppers since their inception. But now many shoppers are struggling to find any items of clothing in their size, due to inconsistency in size measurements across different retailers and the phenomenon of ‘vanity sizing’ causing consumer confusion. According to a study conducted by SizeUK over three years, 60 per cent of women admit they are unsure of their dress size due to variations in retailer sizing. So in a country where high streets are homogeneous, dominated by the same fashion retailers, who can we rely on for the perfect fit?
Vanity sizing is a relatively new fashion scandal, which refers to the practice of assigning clothing sizes to garments bigger or smaller than norm for that size, making the wearer feel skinnier or fatter than they actually are. Although many consider it a myth, there’s no doubt that inconsistency in clothing sizes can have a psychological effect and cause frustration.
Launching a ‘name and shame’ appeal on Twitter revealed a list of companies people felt were the worst for inconsistent sizing, in particular two major fashion retailers. “I love H&M but there’s definitely inconsistency,” said freelance journalist, blogger and Twitter user Lor_witters_on. “It drives me crazy, especially when buying things without trying them on only to find it doesn’t fit.”
Primark also received a slight bashing. “I can buy a shirt in one size and need a t-shirt in another in Primark,” professed arts and crafts blogger and Tweeter c_brookes. “Their jeans are the same – one style in one size and another style in another.”
The best way to confirm any variance was by visiting stores and going about testing sizes the old fashion way – with a tape measure. First up is H&M, a Swedish retail giant who made around £446 billion in the last quarter according to Business Week, and were heavily mentioned in the Twitter appeal. Their in-store sizing chart suggests a size 14 will fit someone with a 36.25 inch chest, but when measured, a new cat print tea dress measures 35 inches, coming up smaller than the suggested measurement. In contrast, a pair of their slim leg, regular waist jeans, listed as a 30 inch waist on the tag measure at 32 inches, coming up wider than expected.
However, H&M maintain their sizes are tried and tested worldwide. Chloe Bowers, press officer at H&M, said: “H&M uses the same body measurements and sizes for all its 38 markets and they are based on Swedish body measurement lists. We do not work with ‘vanity sizing’. All departments within H&M work with the same body measurements and all garments are tried on mannequins or fitting models, so as a customer you should be able to buy the same size regardless of which department you are shopping within.”
Despite saying their clothing sizes are standardised across all departments, Chloe added: “A garment can feel different in size depending on style and fit, for example our young department ‘Divided’ might work with a more close fit fabric than, for example, our ladies department.”
H&M currently work with around 700 suppliers worldwide, who in turn use subcontractors, adding up to around 2,700 production units used in the manufacture of their clothes. With such a high number of links in the supply chain, inconsistency from supplier to supplier is showing through in their products. But they’re not the only ones. Continue reading →