There’s nothing worse than taking a stack of clothes into a tight and stuffy changing room, only to have to do the old leg-wrestle, bunny hop in order to get those skinny jeans up and over your thighs and butt. In some cases the eternal struggle (which is very, very real) pays off and we’ve got a nice, form-fitting pair of jeans to invest in. But in many other cases we simply leave the store, frustrated at not fitting into the size we thought we were.
Of course this hypothetical scenario can apply to a wide-variety of clothing items and not just jeans. But the sad, disappointed feeling is typically the same. And it’s one that H&M consumers in the U.K. have been feeling particularly often it seems, because the brand has announced that it’s changing its clothing sizes across the pond to better suit its customers. The company announced the move in a press release last week, following several consumer complaints that the tight-fitting clothing wasn’t exactly true-to-size.
“I am very proud of my body. It has taken a long time but I am thoroughly content with my large hips, squishy thighs and little tum, thank you very much. I’ve always been a 12/14 and pleased with it, but when I tried on your jeans I was annoyed, hot and frustrated. The pair of jeans clearly were not made for a woman who is a size 14. Why is that?” shared one woman on Facebook in an open letter to the company.
“Why is it ok for a brand to label an item of clothing as a size which it clearly isn’t? I’m not writing to complain about the impact it had on me. Admittedly, I’m annoyed but I didn’t need another pair of jeans and the pearls were a nice feature but I’ll manage without them. It’s more about what it might mean for someone else.”
She was more polite than most.
H&M can actually suck my ass. I haven’t had a IBS flare for a few weeks now so I’m a UK size 10. Tried a size 12 dress on because I’m aware their sizes come up small & for when I do have a flare & it was way too small, tried a 14, way too big. Actual assholes
— Georgina (@Georgieyox) June 10, 2018
This is me in @hm not fitting into size 10 trousers! Its CRAZY…i am very slim so the average UK woman must be a size 16/18 plus in this store which really doesn’t mater but it’s not helping women to love their bodies😡😡 #clothessizes #bodyconfidence #selflove #loveyourbody pic.twitter.com/W7g73SeSkI
— Sophia Rose (@sophiarosefit) June 6, 2018
Oh I gave up going in there years ago. It made me feel like the Incredible Hulk. I’m a UK 12 (give or take, depending on the store) but even the largest size H&M makes won’t accommodate my shoulders & biceps.
— Woolly Logic (@WoollyLogicCeri) June 1, 2018
@hm I bought these shorts. Was horrified that I was having to buy a size 16 as I am definitely not this size. Get home to find that actually these shorts have been sized completely wrong! (US 12/ EU 42 – not a UK 16) please could you look at your sizing #selfconcious #sizing #h&m pic.twitter.com/WyMO6CdhJf
— Franki Markham (@FrankiLilyM) June 3, 2018
“Following customer feedback, we are taking the steps to change our womenswear measurements to be in line with U.K. sizing,” H&M said in a statement. “The previous measurements and fit of a size 12 will now be the measurements of a size 10.” H&M retailers in North America are following suit (see what we did there?!) with the new sizes beginning with their upcoming summer and fall collections, but the company still hasn’t explained exactly what the heck went wrong in the first place.
Sure, sizing standards change over the years and within specific brands and countries. But as one expert tells Teen Vogue there are no official standards in place to guide companies either.
“Every company is free to adopt a system of their choosing, although most large retailers like H&M aim to work with widely used sizing systems, like those in the EU and the US,” Timo Rissanen, Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability at Parsons School of Design in New York City, told the publication. “Most sizing charts for women assume an hourglass figure, and many women are not that shape. The other issue is regional variance. Not only is there regional variation in bodies, but there is variation in that variation.”
The prof notes that the best solution is for companies to begin investing into research that tells them what their specific customers need and want in order to best gauge their size system. Only then will the number of disappointed shoppers leaving the store frustrated at not being able to find anything in his or her size begin decreasing.
“I don’t think there is one fix, but each company would benefit from getting to know their customer better in terms of shapes and sizes,” Rissanen added. “In the case of H&M, they would benefit from investing in regional analysis of body shapes and sizes.”
For now, at least it seems like the company is paying attention to their customers with this sizing shift, which can only be a step in the right direction. Now if only all companies would do the same.