The clothing brand H&M have recently come under scrutiny over their sizing system, as items prove to be smaller than the size on their label. The extensive criticism received has finally led to reform, but I don’t think the problem is resolved just yet.
A Twitter post highlights the problem at hand: a woman struggled to fit into a Size 16 H&M dress despite being a Size 12 in other clothing stores. A customer assistant informed her, “ahh yeah you have to go up a couple of sizes with these”. People’s sizes fluctuate depending on fit, material and such. That is common knowledge and even something that I personally deal with sometimes, but this fluctuation should be nowhere near to the extent where a woman has to ask for a dress that is four sizes above her usual size. This has the potential to have serious effects on shoppers’ mentalities, because as the same woman depicts, a lot of women take the size of their clothes to heart, especially when they must size up. Even though the sizing at H&M is far from accurate, this experience will stick with shoppers. The effect on H&M has not been good. Their reputation has been seriously damaged by this and understandably many shoppers have become sceptical of the brand.
The reforms that have been put in place to combat this have made some progress. It is stated on the H&M FAQ page that “for now, customers will not see size 24 listed, as this is now a size 22”, showing that the reform meant a downgrade for every size by one. However, this cannot be the end of the reforms. Using the previous example of a woman having to go up four dress sizes, surely bringing sizes down by one will not lead to a solution? Of course, the change will be satisfactory for some people and items, but it cannot realistically be the fix. Not only that, but to accommodate this change, a Size 0 was added with the previous measurements of a Size 2. For women who are self-conscious about their size, the addition of a size at the bottom of the spectrum maintains their position on that spectrum, as it were, meaning that although their personal size number is smaller, they are still the same distance from the ‘slim’ side of womenswear as they were prior. The existence of a Size 0 perpetuates so many unhealthy values, and the fact that an additional size was not added on the plus sized end is the icing on the cake. The shift in sizes, albeit beneficial, is also detrimental in this manner.
The problem, despite being ‘fixed’, is still most definitely, causing issues. The downgrade of one size is not enough in a lot of cases, so I imagine this controversy will resurface again in the future.