Large? Clothing sizes and size labeling

image of Large? Clothing sizes and size labeling

This report examines the relationship between the clothing sizes and the size labeling given in the garments, and how the consumers experience it. The research is based on three different sources: a consumer survey, clothing size measurements in shops and in-depth interviews. The data is collected from three Nordic Countries; Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The size measurement results and the survey answers indicate that sizing systems are confusing and full of disparities. The European committee for standardization is developing a common European size code for garments, but they have experienced problems in reaching a system that indicates the sizes accurately, but still does not get too long and complicated for the consumers to understand or for the manufactures to use. A common and well-functioning size labeling system would be an advantage to many consumers, in particular to groups who find the size labeling insufficient, and for the consumers that are not able to try on clothes in the stores themselves. We also hope that a better understanding of the relationship between bodies, clothes and size labeling will be useful in future discussions, due to the growing focus on body and dieting, as well as the increased weight of the population. And finally, a diminishing number of mistake purchases will be beneficial for the environment as it decreases the disposal of textiles. The authors are Kirsi Laitala, Benedicte Hauge and Ingun Grimstad Klepp from Norwegian National Institute for Consumer Research (SIFO)




The report discusses the relationship between clothes and size labeling, and also how consumers experience this relationship. Clothes were until the development of the ready-to-wear (RTW) industry made to individual dimensions and fit for each individual. Today's clothing industry is based on a system where clothes are made in RTW sizes that are meant to fit most people. Size labeling is a communication system between manufacturers and consumers. The intention with the system is to make it simpler to find clothes that fit. It presupposes that the manufacturers label the sizes accurately, and that the consumers understand and trust the size labeling, but also that the clothes are fitted to the consumers' bodies. The size labeling systems can be understood as rational systems, but they still raise emotive issues. The clothes are made and labeled to fit different bodies, but as long as body sizes and figures are two fields strewn with norms this will influence the labeling itself. It is conceivable that the norms are reflected in the way consumers comprehend the size labeling, but also the manufacturers' choices in connection with which body figures they produce clothes for and how these are labeled. In order to analyze these conditions, three different types of materials were collected: size measurements of trousers in clothing stores, a consumer questionnaire and qualitative interviews. The results from these analyses are presented in this report.


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