Last week H&M announced it will be making its women’s clothing bigger, responding to ongoing complaints from shoppers that its sizes just don’t measure up, but is it just window dressing?
The Swedish fashion store has been accused of selling clothes that are much smaller than considered ‘usual’ for years, and has now promised to do something about it.
The move is believed to be in support of the body positivity movement. Fashion brands have been criticised in recent years for reinforcing negative messages about body image.
Sizing running small can be particularly distressing for people who are sensitive about their body and are, in reality, a completely healthy shape and size.
However, it sounds like the changes may be as simple as labelling clothes one size bigger than usual (for exmaple, a size 14 dress could now be labelled as a 12) rather than a complete overhaul.
Does more need to change?
This may be a move in the right direction, but shouldn’t clothing stores be addressing the fact that their sizes are wildly different across their ranges? It feels like change is long overdue in the industry.
I’d consider myself a size 10, but the labels in my wardrobe range from four to 14. I don’t care much for the numbers, but in certain stores I don’t even bother trying on trousers or jeans because I know they won’t fit. Some I avoid altogether, and I know I’m not alone on this.
Not only can it be a knock to your confidence to have to buy a size or two bigger, it’s confusing to be forced to work out your size in several stores, and especially frustrating when ordering online. I’ve lost track of all the time (and money) I’ve spent returning items because the sizing wasn’t accurate.
Rethinking the approach
I’d say it’s pretty rare for someone to be the same size over their whole body. I don’t think being told you are an ‘extra small’ or an ‘extra large’ is the most endearing, or the most accurate way to describe what you wear.
And do we, as consumers, have a role to play by recognising that no one size can possibly fit all? Just 40 to 50 years ago, most people would expect to make adjustments to their clothing. Has a modern throwaway culture made us expect everything we buy to be exactly how we want it?
We’re already seeing apps that match your body shape to clothing, and eventually advances in manufacturing will likely make it possible, and more accessible, to order clothes that are tailored exactly to you, but this could be some distance off yet.
What do you think about H&M sizing, and its plans to change? Which clothing brands do you think need to pull their sleeves up when it comes to fit?