According to a report by consumer organisation CHOICE, the lack of a uniform standard for adult clothing sizes in Australia is affecting the online shopping market, with retailers saying Australia lags behind the United States, United Kingdom and Europe in this area. CHOICE journalist Kate Browne did her own investigation and you can watch the video below.
To address these clothing size irregularities, many key industry players have called for government funding of a national sizing survey to assess the body shapes of Australians to help manufacturers, retailers and consumers make a better fit. But don’t expect the high-end fashion labels to adopt any uniform standard, as this section of the industry plays by their own rules.
Australia has been without a uniform standard for adult clothing sizes since 2007 when the most recent standard was withdrawn because it was considered no longer relevant. Established in 1959, the standard used was based on a 1926 study of women conducted by underwear manufacturer Berlei and some US Department of Commerce Standards. After 1970, several revisions were made to the standard by the Australian Women’s Weekly when 11,455 female readers measured themselves and posted in the results. But despite a heavier population, thicker waist lines and changing body shapes, no new data was collected for the women’s sizing standard after 1975.
So in the absence of a uniform standard for adult clothing sizes, designers and clothing manufacturers in Australia have been able to apply their own individual standards since 2007 – a situation which has created the widespread adult clothing size irregularities we see today.
One of the most significant findings of the CHOICE report on adult clothing size irregularities, is the problem of vanity sizing – a practice where retailers add a few centimetres to the smaller sizes on their clothing racks to increase sales of that particular item. “The rationale is that the customer will feel so good about suddenly fitting into a size 10 they will snap it up immediately.”
Another troubling finding by CHOICE is the reluctance of fashion designers to produce their clothing in larger sizes. Designers manipulate sizing to deter the “wrong” body shapes from fitting their clothes.
“Many of the industry experts CHOICE spoke to say some designers have an idealised type of customer in mind, and that there is real reluctance to have their clothes made in larger sizes. Even if they don’t volunteer this publicly, the clothes on the rack speak volumes with tiny sizes de rigueur, especially among the higher-end designer labels.”
But nowhere is the widespread clothing size irregularities more problematic than online where consumers don’t have access to fitting rooms.
“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?”
So what about men’s clothing? CHOICE says men have it a little easier than women. “In most cases men’s garments are named by a measurement, so if a pair of trousers is labelled 38 inches, it’s likely they will actually be 38 inches at the waist.”
However, with more men’s clothing being produced in representational sizes such as small, medium and large, size irregularities could become as much a concern for men as it is for women in Australia.
WATCH KATE BROWNE’S INVESTIGATION:
You can read the entire CHOICE report on Clothing Size Irregularities online at the website www.choice.com.au, where you can also share your experiences of clothing size irregularities.
Source: CHOICE (www.choice.com.au)