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‘Vanity Sizing – Exploding The Myths’


 It would be wrong to suggest that vanity sizing does not happen but in reality it probably does not happen as often as some believe. Indeed there are several reasons why garment suppliers would put a size in the label that does not directly correspond to the physical measurements of the garment and it has nothing to do with deceiving customers. It is much more about helping their customers buy the right garment for their actual size and shape that both looks and feels good.

Most brands do not actually decrease the label size of a garment, but what they do is increase the base size body measurements over time (1-2 cm this year, 1-2 more cm in two years, etc…) so that over time, consumers often find that if their body changes, they can still buy the same size.



We often hear from women whose body has not changed much, and they are buying 1-2 sizes smaller than they used to buy. And, yes, this does have a strong, positive psychological impact on shoppers. The strategy works best, however, for women over the age of 30 (after most women have had children and they notice that their body has changed a bit). Most teenagers and women younger than 30 care less about the size label, and the psychological aspect of vanity sizing tends not to impress them.

Then there is the cultural mix we have in our consumer base now. Immigration over the last half century has significantly diversified the shape of women shopping on the high street. Furthermore menopause, exercise regimens and diets all have an impact on size and shape as well. Add to that the fact that, even without those factors, women’s bodies naturally fluctuate in “size” through the course of a month, a week, even a day. For these reasons many fashion designers and suppliers will factor in some flexibility for comfort when sizing their garments.



In the case of men’s clothing it is a similar scenario. Brands design clothing to comfortably fit certain body measurements: a size 34 inch waist is meant to fit someone who has (or thinks they have) a 34 inch waist. In order to fit properly/comfortably, there needs to be a small amount of “ease” in the garment measurement. For example, a size 34 trouser or jean will often measure 34 ½, 35, or even 35 ½ inches if you measure the waistband.

Add to that the fact that men’s clothing now has more design/fit options than in the past. Most high street retailers indicate on their trousers or jeans that this style “sits at the waist” while another style “sits below the waist”. In order to technically fit these different options correctly, the brand specifications will be different, even though the size is the same. While a style that sits at the waist in size 34 might measure 35inches, a style that sits below the waist in the same size might measure 37 inches because it is designed to sit closer to the hip.

In summary, whereas some suppliers might be misleading their shoppers through vanity sizing, the vast majority are actually basing their sizing on the real shape and size of their target consumer groups but making ‘easement’ adjustments for all the right reasons.

For more information on sizing and fit issues and solutions visit www.Alvanon.com 

By Ed Gribbin


Alvanon Inc

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