16th July When is a size 10, a size 8 and also a size 12?
Are brands’ turbulent sizing negatively impacting the environment more than we thought?
Sizing was introduced into the fashion industry to help make the selection of clothing more reliable. It was also there to increase the production of items from drawing board to consumer while also reducing costs. Everyone reading this blog will have struggled with sizing at one point in their life. Whether a pair of jeans are too small for you, yet you are sure you were a size 12 in another brand, or whether you buy several items from the same brand in the same size, and none of them fit in the same way…
Irregular sizing does not only make us feel worse about our bodies, but it also is slowly and surely destroying our environment. We are buying so many clothes and failing to find ones that fit, causing our global environmental issues to spiral. The textile industry is already one of the biggest polluters on the planet and our attitude towards consuming it makes it worse.
Where did standard sizing come from?
In the early 1800’s, a war was going on and to be able to issue our uniforms more efficiently was vital for the army. The Americans created “ready made” uniforms that took into account chest size, with other measurements like waist and neck being proportional to the chest size. On the most part, this sizing system was successful as the only major alterations that were needed were the length of the trouser legs. At the start of the 1900’s, an attempt of creating a generalised sizing scheme for women occurred. This on the other hand, was not successful in any way. They applied the same system they used for men, to women where they took the chest size and based everything proportionally off that. This was a fundamental flaw as women’s chest sizes do not relate to the rest of their body in a proportional way. From then on, the sizing system has always been based on proportionality which isn’t always correctly translated in retailers products. Many companies create the items without checking the fit on a range of body types, assuming they will fit because a computer told them so.
Why is returning clothes back to brands so bad?
Due to the range of inaccuracy when it comes to clothes sizes, returning clothes has become the norm and is viewed as completely acceptable. We are buying more and more items to find the size that fits us the best and then sending most of them back. But there is a dark side to this seemingly innocent action. When you send back an order to many fast fashion brands, it simply is not worth their time or effort to return the clothes to their warehouse, check them, repackage them and send them back out to new customers. Instead tonnes of clothes get sent to be incinerated which is the cheapest and fastest option for them.
How can we make the best out of a bad situation?
There are a few things we as consumers can do in order to overcome the turbulent sizing issue within the fashion industry.
1. When buying items online, always make sure to read their measurement guide.
2. Have a look and see if there are reviews of each item (many fast fashion sites give you the ability to review and upload pictures of it – a small silver lining and maybe the only silver lining?).
3. Stop buying multiple sizes of the same item and instead buy one once you have had an educated guess and believe there is a high chance it will fit.
4. Finally, GO TO THE SHOP AND TRY IT ON! Since the pandemic started, online shopping has now become giant so please do not forget you can go and try the items on before you make any environmental commitment to them.
So why is a size 10, a size 8 and also a size 12?
As we can now see, the sizing system is there to help retailers bring products to the market in a faster and cheaper way, but by not checking their products they cause a knock-on effect of ill-fitting clothes. This in turn causes people to buy the incorrect sizing and send it back or keep it and never wear it again. Let’s always read the measurements guide, look at reviews of the item to see if it runs big or small and stop buying multiple sizes at a time in order to reduce our returns and reduce the amount of clothes that go straight to waste. Here at Dopplle our main message is to reuse clothes and give them a new life, but we know not everyone has the luxury of visiting charity shops, spending time scrolling on Dopplle for the perfect item or going to swap events with friends. We know many people still buy fast fashion because it is the most fitting for their lifestyle, so we hope this helps you and next time you have a £400 Shein order, have a look and really go through each item to make sure you think you have chosen the best size for you.
Remember, every size and shape is beautiful and your body cannot be categorised into a number value, because it is so much more than some shapes on a label.