Rakuten Fits Me talk inconsistent sizing at MODA
This week, one of the UK’s premier fashion trade shows took place in the NEC Birmingham. MODA attracts thousands of brands and independent retailers who gather to showcase their products. With over 12,000 visitors each season it’s definitely not one to miss from the fashion calendar.
In between the steady stream of catwalk shows throughout the day, many seminars also took place covering a range of topics of interest to retailers and fashion professionals. Seminar topics ranged from Multichannel and future of online fashion to fashion blogging and budgeting.
This year, Rakuten Fits Me consultant and diversity advocate Emma Hayes took to the stage to discuss ‘Women’s clothing sizes: Consistency v diversity’, bringing her experience within the fashion and UK plus size industry.
A hot (but often sensitive) subject among fashionistas and retailers alike, Emma spoke about the interface between sizing, grading and body shape. More specifically, with ever more diverse body shapes among the modern-day consumer – just how can retailers offer better fit and more relatable sizing?
The problem of inconsistent sizing:
Female apparel sizing was based on an ‘ideal woman’, not a real woman, and there is no evidence that race, size or age differences were considered when initial standards came into play. In the past, this issue may have been side-stepped, as apparel sold through bricks-and-mortar stores meant customers could easily try on clothing before they made their purchase. Now however, more and more transactions are happening online and suddenly, without being able to try-before-you-buy, the issue of fit becomes a huge issue. Not only are customers left feeling frustrated but the level of returns generated by a somewhat hit and miss method of buying clothes tends to increase. For retailers to offer more consistent sizing across diverse groups of customers, they need to implement a solution which can suggest the right fit per customer, based on their individual body shape. Not on the cluster of many.
Inconsistent sizing isn’t just bad for your customer experience but your wider brand reputation. Many customers often take to social media to vent their frustration. Plus-size ambassadors and body diversity champions such as Charlotte Kuhrt and Mira Hirsch (who both have a significant social following) talk about the need for a better sizing system which accommodates ALL shoppers. With influencers such as these bringing the issue to more light, retailers simply have to sit up and listen.
But how can retailers do this? The Solution:
As we know, women do not just come in one body shape – there are several shapes that we tend to fit into, many of which are in the collective consciousness. Words such as ‘hourglass’, ‘apple shape’ and ‘pear shape’ are pretty well known, although the full range of different shapes is not generally understood.
In the seminar, Emma focused on how new technologies can help customers find their perfect fit, thus offering more consistent sizing and increasing overall customer loyalty.
If retailers embrace these new technologies and start offering accurate fit recommendations online, this removes the need for customers to focus purely on the size label, which can turn a negative shopping experience into a positive one.
“By utilising our expertise in body shape, fit, garment technology and digital, retailers can move forward into the next phase of the fashion industry” Emma confirms.
Scandinavian plus-size retailer Masai understands that every shopper’s body shape is different. By adding fit recommendations to their product pages, not only can they recommend the right size for each individual body shape but also learn more about their customers in the process.
Creating consistent and accurate sizing that fits all our diverse body shapes is entirely possible… but only once we have fully embraced this new technology.
Want to learn more about how retailers can overcome the conundrum of inconsistent sizing across different body shapes? Register for our webinar here.