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  • Writer's picturegabby brown

size inclusion

I've been thinking a lot about the wonderful size inclusion discussion happening in the indie sewing scene- folks are feeling excluded from size ranges offered by pattern companies, which is problematic because they're also historically excluded from ready-to-wear. Looks like the message is being heard loud and clear, however, at least in the indie scene- bravo!

This has led me to wonder if, because the business of apparel has traditionally been based on using a size 6/8 for fit and design purposes and grading out from there, a few things:

1. Theoretically, if you choose a body type and size as your "base size", you should be able to chose whatever the heck you want, and if your grading is correct, you won't have any sizing issues. This only works, though, if you are already operating from a place of understanding that it is literally impossible for one pattern / garment to fit every single person who wears that size, simply due to differing body shapes. A lot of companies also grade waaaay too many sizes off of their base size, magnifying the fit issues. So what to do...

- Customize your grade rules for your clientele- "I only sell to Petite women sizes 00-14, and I shall never grade an inseam or a skirt length." Well, there's your exclusion again.

- Offer a wide range of sizes, with small groups of grading to minimize shaping distortions. Example, Missy Sizes 2-12, Missy Next 12-18, We're Also Missy 20-26, and So Are We 28-34. Not bad- expensive on the fit model front, but worth it for the ROI of garments that fit larger swaths of people reliably better, because you have less room for error using smaller grade tables.

2. I'm really into that last idea! Also, I hate that size ranges are distinguished with their current verbiage. If you've designed something beautiful into your brand aesthetic, why can't everyone who identifies with that and has the money to pay for it wear it? I would love it if brands gave up on designing for "their woman". We're taught in design school to identify in your head your perfect client- she's tall, wears a size 4 and statement glasses, works at a magazine, has a glossy brunette bob, etc etc boooooring. I would like nothing better than for brands to design purely into their aesthetic- for example, Marimekko is known for their fabrics and shockingly stunning prints. Ok, I love fabrics and shockingly stunning prints! My size shouldn't matter.

3. Verbiage in general. Numeric sizes make sense if you have to use numbers to make them. But I dislike that they start small and go up, and our societal norms are stupid in regards to size-ism. Alpha sizes the same thing- small, medium, large, etc. Some companies use letters, or numbers 1-4, etc. I can appreciate the effort to remove stigma, but the problem with using consecutive anything is people will usually ascribe some kind of meaning where none is intended. Short of every single person throwing their hands up and saying, IDGAF what you think about what size I am....

- Can we make our tiny grade groups named after, like, esoteric colors?

"Hello, I'd like to order the Star Island dress."

"Great! That's one of our best sellers. What size?"

"I'll take it in Cinnabar and Mazarine, and keep the one that fits best."

"Excellent choices, thank you for doing business with us."

Obviously, the problem is then you can't carry a large range of actual colorways, but if you're selling patterns...

You get my point. Also, I've used Missy & feminine terms in this post as an example, but please sub in whatever you like. I'd also like to change gendered verbiage in fashion in general- prinxess seams? But that's a discussion for another day...

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