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Deciding Your Fashion Brand's Size Range: A Comprehensive Guide

Hello to all our design and fashion-fanatic followers.

Today we’re tapping into an important question: How does a fashion brand decide its size range?

Is it based on the brands' requirements, the product, or the factory?

A well-laid size range isn't just about fit; it's about a conversation with your customers. Like any good conversation, navigating it well requires understanding, empathy, and connection. That being said, one of the most important aspects of speaking with your customers is knowing how to talk to them about size.

A well-curated and outlined size range not only makes your brand accessible but also loved and cherished by your target audience. It's all about understanding, meeting, and anticipating your customer's needs. Let's get started so you can discover the perfect size range for your brand! 🛤️👠

Part One: Market Research - Your Customer Compass 🧭

A collage mood board with pictures of surfboards, plus size female surfers, a woman wearing a bright pink active onesie, watermelon with a bright pink and orange printed purse next to it, flowers wrapped in paper at a market, bright pink and blue rounded furniture inside a mid century modern living room, sparkling water cans with retro swirl branding, and a bright orange bikini floating in a pool.
Customer persona mood board for an active swimwear brand.

Every strong brand strategy begins with understanding your audience.

It's critical to study and capture comprehensive market research, including an analysis of your customer demographic, as it can provide vital insights into your target audience's sizing needs. This process should include a deep dive into your competition, reading relevant industry reports, news articles, customer reviews, and talking directly with people you suspect might be your ideal customer.

The goal is to learn about them inside and out—ask how they shop, what sizes they typically wear, and pay attention to the way they explain and talk about everything related to size. The language they use is a framework for your brand. These details make all the difference, so pay attention! 🗺️🔍

Want to know how to identify your target customer? We've got you covered with a whole blog post

dedicated to this topic! Plus, grab our Customer Persona Profile to start pinpointing your ideal customer right now!

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Part Two: Competitive Analysis - Identifying Popular Sizes 🕵️‍♀️

An Airtable chart featuring research on swimwear competitors in the activewear space.
Competitive analysis tracker for an active swimwear brand.

Scan your competitors' websites and stores to uncover your customer's preferences.

Analyzing the 'out-of-stock sizes and styles provides vital clues to what's most popular and trending.

For instance, if you notice sizes 10, 12, and 14 are often the first to run out at a specific brand, that’s signaling a high demand in the mid-range of the size spectrum.

On the other side, leftover stock, clearance, and final sale items can reveal over-purchased sizes and styles, poor sellers, and poor size distribution choices. These are areas where you can learn from your competitors' mistakes and are worth paying attention to as well.

Another area to consider when looking at size distribution is that there might be differences in size distribution based on styles, too. For example, a super sexy swimwear company might invest more volume in their cheekier styles while ordering less in the modest bottoms they're only testing while the reverse is true for a modest company testing sexier swimwear.

These insights can be like puzzle pieces, helping to construct your size range. 🧩

Looking to analyze your competitive research? Get our Competitive Analysis Tracker to easily organize data and uncover where your competitors might be falling short in terms of size offerings and more. Let's fill in the blanks together!

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Part Three: Analyzing Industry Standards - Numeric, Alpha, and Plus-Size Systems 📚

A lineup of 5 dress forms inside a fashion studio.
Industry standard dress forms at the Alvanon Studio in NYC.

Next, it’s time to check out what already exists regarding industry standards to get a baseline.

Size systems for women's ready-to-wear fashion vary significantly between brands, countries, and individual garments. This variation often results from different body types, measurement practices, and customer preferences across cultures and regions. Still, the most common systems used globally are numeric (or numerical, i.e., size 2, 4, 6) and alpha (or alphabetical, i.e., sizes S, M, L) sizing, or a mix of alpha and numeric (i.e., 1X, 2X, 3X)

Numeric Sizing

Numeric sizing is often found in tailored clothing that requires a more precise fit, like dresses, blazers, and trousers. In the United States, women's numeric sizes generally refer to women's standard, also known as Missy or Misses sizing. These sizes correspond to specific body measurements, including bust, waist, and hip circumference, being the most popular and easy to measure. In the past, this size range typically ran from 0 to 14 using even numbers. That said, more and more brands in this category are extending their sizes; many offer up to size 24 in a missy fit.

Petite sizes, designed for women under 5'4", are often indicated by a "P" next to the numeric size, like 4P, indicating 4 Petite. You can expect shorter inseams and sleeve lengths, lower knee positions, and higher waist positions on petite sizes. On the other hand, tall sizes are sometimes indicated with an 'L' for Long, like 8L. They are designed for women over 5'8" and feature longer inseams, sleeve lengths, and lower waist positions. Plus size is typically indicated with a 'W' for Woman instead of 'Missy' or 'Misses' considered 14W and beyond.

Alpha Sizing

Alpha sizing refers to the system that uses sizes like XS (Extra Small), S (Small), M (Medium), L (Large), and XL (Extra Large) for their range. This system is often used in casual knit clothing, like t-shirts, swimwear, undies, sweaters, and leggings, where a precise fit is less critical.

In alpha sizing, each size corresponds to a range of body measurements. For example, "Small" might fit women who wear numeric sizes 4-6, with "Medium" designed for sizes 8-10, while "Large" might cover sizes 12-14. The specific numeric size ranges vary among different brands and garments, so it's always recommended to reference the size chart.

Plus-Size Alpha-Numeric Sizing

In the United States, "plus-size" generally refers to clothing sizes for women with fuller figures who wear a size 14 or larger in the standard (numeric) size system.

In the plus-size alpha-numeric system, sizes usually start from 1X (sometimes labeled as XL or X), then continue with 2X, 3X, etc. Each "X" corresponds to a range of numeric sizes. For example, 1X may correspond to sizes 14-16, 2X to sizes 18-20, 3X to sizes 22-24, etc., although this varies among different brands and styles.

As in the standard alpha sizing system, each alpha-numeric size in the plus-size system is designed to fit a range of body measurements. However, the measurements for plus-size clothing are generally more generous, especially in the bust, waist, and hip areas.

All sizing systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Numeric sizing allows for a more precise fit. Still, numeric sizing can be challenging to standardize while being more SKU-heavy. On the other hand, alpha sizing is more straightforward and more flexible but can be less precise in fit. While plus-size alpha-numeric systems offer a simplified and inclusive way of sizing for larger body types.

Though these may not work for your target customer, consider them a starting point and do further research to ensure you're making the best choice for your target demographic. Ultimately, the choice of size system often depends on the specific needs of the brand's target customer and the type of garments they produce.

However, as with any sizing system, the specific measurements corresponding to each size can vary between brands, countries, and garments. Therefore, it's always essential for shoppers to check a brand's specific size chart to ensure the best fit.

Part Four: Inclusive Sizing - The Power of Plus Size and its Market Impact 🌈

The plus-size apparel market in the US was valued at $21.4 billion in 2020. Despite making up a considerable portion of the market at 67%, the offerings are still slim for this very eager demographic.

Consider offering an inclusive size range—it opens your brand to a larger market while sending out a positive message about body positivity and acceptance. Think of the below brands as inclusive ambassadors and a reason to expand your size range beyond the standard alpha XS-XL or numeric standard of 0-14.

Universal Standard: This brand is a forerunner in the body-positive fashion movement. It offers an inclusive size range from 00-40, ensuring that all women can find stylish, quality clothes that fit.

Eloquii: Eloquii is a fashion-forward plus-size clothing brand that offers trendy and stylish clothing, including workwear, cocktail dresses, and casual wear, in sizes 14-28.

Savage X Fenty by Rihanna: This lingerie brand is renowned for its inclusivity, offering styles in sizes ranging from XS to 3X and bras ranging from 30A to 46H. Rihanna's Savage X Fenty fashion shows are equally inclusive and diverse.

Good American: Founded by Khloe Kardashian and Emma Grede, Good American set out to fill a gap in the denim market for jeans that fit women of all shapes. They carry sizes from 00 to 24 and use a sizing system that pays more attention to shape than size alone.

ThirdLove: This brand shook up the lingerie industry by offering half-cup sizing in bras, allowing for a more accurate and inclusive fit. Their sizes range from AA to I cups (including half sizes) and bands from 30 to 48.

These brands have all made a massive impact in many women's lives by making beautiful fashion accessible to so many sizes and customers. Embrace inclusivity, and your brand could be the next fashion icon!

Part Five: Production Considerations - Size Range + Scalability🌱

A factory sample room filled with industrial sewing machines. There are large windows in the room with the view of a sunset outside.
Sample room inside a Sri Lankan factory,

Your production capabilities directly impact your size range. Smaller brands often start with a limited size range, then expand as they grow.

Balancing the size range with cost, manufacturing, and logistics is vital. Offering a broad size range may be appealing. Still, it should not compromise quality or put an undue strain on resources. Work with your factory and ask them for suggestions on building your size range to offer as many sizes as possible.

Brands must also factor in scalability to meet demand, as you want to add and create opportunities for new customers into your pipeline as your business grows. This doesn't mean you need to always be adding new sizes. Still, a well-intentioned strategic effort can go a long way toward winning your audience over—people love to feel heard!

Part Six: Marketing Strategy - Educating Customers on Sizing 🗣️

Once you've got your size range set, it's time to ensure your customers understand it.

Marketing your size range involves more than just letting customers know what sizes you offer in each style. Clear and consistent communication is crucial here. It's about effectively communicating your sizing system, helping with size selection, and ensuring a positive shopping experience.

Accurate size guides, detailed product descriptions, and engaging fit tutorials can make sizing a breeze for your customers. Don't forget to consider the areas below where you can make a massive impact on how you convey fit to your customers.

Clear + Specific Sizing Guides: Detailed, easy-to-understand size guides are fundamental. They should provide all relevant measurements for each size you offer and explain how to take accurate measurements. Some brands also include images or diagrams to visualize the measuring process in their sizing guides.

Model Diversity: Showing your clothing on various models can also help customers better gauge their size and how the garment might look on someone with their body type. This means using models of different sizes, shapes, and heights. Brands like Madewell, Girlfriend Collective, and Universal Standard do this well, showcasing their clothing on models of different sizes and looks.

Consistent Product Descriptions: Detailed product descriptions that explain the fit, fabric stretch, and model size can help customers make better-informed decisions. Some brands, like Everlane, mention the model's height and the size she's wearing.

Honest Customer Reviews: Encourage customers to leave reviews that include their measurements and how the clothing fit. This gives future customers real-life references to compare and contrast, aiding in selecting the correct size.

Educational Content: Content marketing can help educate customers about your sizes. This might include blog posts about measuring yourself accurately, social media posts explaining the brands' sizing system, or YouTube videos showing how different sizes fit various body types.

Virtual Fitting Tools: Technology can be a great ally. Brands like ASOS and Zozotown use AI-driven tools that help customers find their perfect size based on their measurements, body shape, and preferred fit. Offering a virtual fitting room can dramatically reduce returns and increase customer satisfaction.

Engaging Customer Support: Your customer service team should be well-versed in your sizing system and ready to help customers determine their best fit. Regular training can help ensure they're up-to-date with changes in your sizing methods.

Investing time in educating your customers about your sizes enhances their shopping experience and builds trust in your brand. It's an ongoing process, but it's worth it when your customers feel confident and beautiful in your clothing. Remember to celebrate your victories but also learn from your missteps. Encourage customer feedback to make continuous improvements in your fit and size. 💃🏽🕺🏽

Crafting your size range is a crucial step in shaping your brand. It combines research, observation, empathy, creativity, and a dash of number-crunching. Embrace the journey, and let's create fashion that fits and flatters all! Here's to celebrating every shape and size! 🥂🎉

Don't miss out on your chance to gain a competitive edge in the fashion industry. Get started with our Competitive Analysis Tracker today!

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