• Kate Higgs

The Limitations of Sizing in Men's Fashion

There needs to be more inclusivity when it comes to men’s fashion.

When it comes to sizes in the male fashion industry, there are limits in what is available to purchase, particularly for men of smaller statures. Although there are issues with women’s sizing, the lack of choice of sizing in men’s clothing is often very limited and this is not talked about enough or as frequently as issues within women’s fashion.

Now, I don’t want to sound like a spoilt millennial, because I know that the fashion industry has vastly changed over the last twenty years, and now people are mostly able to purchase clothing to fit any size. For women, there is a diverse range of clothing, from ‘petite’ which caters for generally shorter and slimmer women, ‘curve’ for women with hourglass figures, and ‘plus size’ which is made for women from size 16 upwards, to name a few. For men, however, there are only vague sizes, generally from XS to XXL, and 28 inches upwards for leg length and waist size of trousers and jeans. Many online clothing stores have created clothing for plus size men. However, they do not usually include any equivalent of a petite range for men, and this is where the problem lies.

I don’t know how many people have actually given any thought to this matter - I never did until I met my partner, and then began to have first-hand experience with the struggle of finding appropriate men’s sizing.

My partner would be described as having a small stature - he is 5’6, and generally a size small/medium in men’s tops and a 28” waist/30” length in bottoms. He has never struggled with finding tops, shirts and jumpers, for example, to adequately fit his physique. Where he does struggle, on the other hand, is finding trousers and jeans that fit to size, and this is a recurring issue with the majority of high street stores. It’s a shame that we are confined to clothing we can buy, as we can only purchase what is on offer to us from clothing stores. If men cannot find short jeans, are they then supposed to purchase boys’ clothing in order to find an appropriate size?

The starting length for men’s jeans at the majority of clothing shops is 30 inches. Main shopping outlets, such as ASOS, Topman and Levi’s, only offer a 28-inch length for jeans designed to be cropped, or with frayed edges to fit the aesthetic of a hipster look. In comparison, women’s jeans start at 27.5 inches and these are classed as petite - which is suitable for anyone under the height of around 5’4.

Taller men, or men above the UK’s average height of 5’9, are catered for in most brands, with the length going up to 38 inches. I don’t understand how companies can produce longer length clothing but cannot do the same with shorter lengths.

I have been out shopping many times with my other half and have seen him let down from not being able to buy jeans purely as they are two inches too long, and this has happened in every shop.

Even online, the same applies. What surprises me the most is that ASOS have not produced a line yet that caters for smaller men. This company has become one of the most popular e-commerce brands on the planet, and produces a huge range of clothing, such as gender-neutral and size inclusive items by brands such as Collusion, ASOS Design, and Weekday, to name just a few. Even these, however, appear unable to produce clothing designed for smaller men.

I decided to ask a handful of men about their opinions on the range of clothing made available to gain a realistic view on the issue. Ryan, a 19-year-old from Herefordshire, is fairly tall at 5’10 so doesn’t usually struggle with length, but he feels that he struggles to find suit sizes that fit properly, and how even the smallest size don’t fit around the waist, resulting in him having to get them altered. He also added that it “can be hard” to find work clothes that fit properly as they are “often aimed at bigger men.” Adam, a 23-year-old from Birmingham, told me he found that clothing brands are not inclusive with length sizes, and that he has “struggled in the past to find trousers of adequate length” as a 5’9 man. In terms of waist size, Adam says that Topman, he feels, is “really good in that department.” Similarly, Dan, a 21-year-old from Stourbridge, has stated how important it would be to have a larger range of lengths in bottoms, as a 5’6 male, he either finds he has to buy cropped or chino-style jeans in order for them to fit comfortably.

I do not mean for this to come across as ignorant to the clothing brands who have tried their best to cater for as many sizes as possible, but from my personal opinions and those of others, it appears to be a recurring struggle for men. It would be great to see brands beginning to cater for smaller men, as I feel they are being forgotten in the fashion world.


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