Blog: Leonie BarrieThe hidden cost of vanity sizing

Leonie Barrie | 16 April 2007

Is anyone really surprised that ‘vanity sizing’ is as prevalent in the UK men’s wear market as it is in women’s wear? I thought the practice of marking items as smaller sizes than they actually are in an attempt to flatter customers into making a purchase was just as widespread in the UK as it is in the US – and more importantly, that it was just as well known. But it would seem not, if investigations in the British media this weekend are anything to go by.

The Sunday Times has accused Gap, H&M and Zara of vanity sizing, and singled out French Connection for selling a pair of jeans in which the actual size exceeded the waistband measurement by six inches. Designer brands also dabbled in the practice, the study found, but by a lesser amount.

Of course the discrepancies can be blamed on styling differences, but with an estimated 44% of men and 38% of women in the UK classed as either overweight or obese, isn’t it wrong to be pandering to their delusions? I know clothing retailers don’t have a moral obligation to look out for the welfare of their customers above and beyond the accepted margins of making sure the garments are safe and fit for purpose, but if consumers continue to get bigger, yet the labelling on their clothing tells them they’re getting smaller, then the worries about vanity sizing are surely justified. 


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