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Why ‘vanity sizing’ is driving shoppers mad

When shopping for new clothes, it can sometimes be a demoralising and frustrating experience. Going from shop to shop, the labels on clothes seem to hold no relevance to the actual measurements of the clothing, leaving many questioning their true size. The lack of standardisation across high street stores and online fashion retailers is causing confusion and upset amongst women. How is it possible to be a size 10 in one shop and a 16 in another? A ‘medium’ in one store and a ‘small’ elsewhere?

What is vanity sizing?

‘Vanity sizing’, a term coined to reflect the upset consumers are experiencing, describes clothing of a certain size becoming bigger over time, tapping into buyer mentality and encouraging shoppers to buy smaller sizes to feel good about themselves – we all know how great it feels to buy a top a size smaller than expected! Although a new term, vanity sizing is not a new phenomenon by any means; sizes have been gradually getting smaller over the years – for example, a size 14 in 1958 would now be considered a size 8 by today’s standards.

Walking into a shop and not knowing where to start is beginning to frustrate shoppers. There has been a lot of exposure of this issue on social media, with online influences sharing their sizing struggles in the dreaded fitting rooms. For example, motherhood, fashion and beauty blogger, Kerri Northcott, posted this photo on Instagram. She stated, “these [shorts] were a size 16 that I had no chance of doing up, followed by a different pair of shorts that were a size 16 that were a bit too big”. Many of her followers chipped in with their bugbears about brands and their sizing too.

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Standardisation of sizes

It’s interesting to consider the differences in the fashion world. Take shoes, for example. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying from Primark or Russell & Bromley: you’re pretty much guaranteed to be the same size. So why can’t clothes adopt the same philosophy?

Unfortunately, there is no legal requirement to enforce standard sizing, so manufacturers vary the measurements depending on store and demographic; astoundingly, Zara’s dress sizes even vary depending on where in the world the garment was manufactured. Another highstreet store, H&M, lowered their measurements only to receive a considerable amount of backlash on social media. As a result, they are now changing the way they size their clothes. So how can we make a real difference to the standardisation of clothing sizes? Well, taking part in market research could prove valuable to high street brands who want to improve the buyer experience. Getting involved in accompanied shops will allow you to feed back your thoughts and opinions to well-known brands. Not only this, but you’ll receive an incentive for your time – yes, really, you can get paid for shopping! The dream, right?

The future

Last year, Primark announced that they were changing the way they sized their womenswear, adopting an S, M and L approach to their clothing rather than number sizing in the hope this would provide a clearer guide to their ranges. And, with high-street store H&M already adjusting their clothing ranges to adhere to the correct measurements, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Now it’s time for the rest of the high street to get on board and make the changes.

At Angelfish Opinions, we conduct market research for brands who want to get valuable insights from their customers. To take part and start making waves with your opinions, sign up to our panel. You’ll get sent relevant invitations to studies to get involved with, including accompanied shops where you can get paid for shopping at your favourite stores!

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