Why women's clothing sizes are all over the shop


National sizing survey needed to reflect changing shape of Australian women.

CHOICE says widespread clothing size irregularities plus a lack of data on the changing shape of Australians highlights the need for a national sizing survey.

There are no uniform sizes for women or men’s clothing since the previous standard was dropped two years ago. Despite a heavier population, the most recent data collected for the women’s sizing standard was in 1975.

CHOICE says the fashion industry currently bases its sizing on previous sales history and marketing hunches about the size and shape of customer they feel best reflects their brand.

Sizing irregularity is also affecting the online shopping market with retailers saying Australia lags behind the United States, United Kingdom and Europe in this area.

“The fact that online clothes shopping has yet to take off in Australia is of little surprise given women’s clothing sizes in general are all over the shop,” said CHOICE spokeswoman Elise Davidson.

“How can people confidently buy online when even if you’re physically standing in a shop you can’t be certain what size will fit you?”

“Vanity sizing” is also a well-known practice in the $2.8 billion dollar industry, with generous sizes designed to entice the consumer into buying the garment because they feel flattered to fit into a size smaller than their usual one.

Some fashion designers admit they are reluctant in some cases to make their labels available in larger sizes. The industry body, Council of the Textile and Fashion Industries Australia (TFIA), says this policy can send negative body image messages to younger consumers.

International fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld described his recent H&M range as designed for “slender and slim” people. Melbourne designer Bettina Liano says she makes size 14 clothes but “they just don’t sell”.

Conversely, Sportsgirl has added some size 16 garments to its collection due to market demand and Myer has added several centimetres over the years to sizes 8-14 to represent what is said was a better fit for consumers.

TFIA says that there are even inconsistencies within brands and sizes due to offshore mass manufacturing with mistakes over mislabelling, cutting huge quantities at once and mistakes during overlocking.

“There is a clear need here for a national sizing survey which will give designers more information about the true shape of Australian women today,” said Ms Davidson.

“Consumers would clearly benefit from being able to buy clothes that fit better, are more flattering and importantly, are comfortable, too.”

CHOICE says men generally have it better than women when it comes to clothes shopping because their clothing is generally measured using specific waist and neck measurements in inches. There is a standard for children’s clothing sizes currently used in Australia.

Want to know more?

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Clothing size irregularities

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25 May 2009 | While there is an Australian standard for children’s clothes sizes, there isn’t for adults. So designers and clothing manufacturers base their sizes on their sales history, marketing hunches and their ideal customer.

 

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