In recent years, size inclusivity has become more than just a trend, it’s become a key aspect of the fashion industry. More and more fashion brands are offering size-inclusive apparel to cater to all body shapes, sizes, and types of people.
Every one of us has to wake up in the morning and get dressed, and we all deserve the same style options to feel beautiful. Size inclusivity aims to erase the line between straight sizes and plus sizes, and instead offer inclusive sizing options so that everyone can choose what they want to wear.
Size-inclusive clothing celebrates body positivity, acceptance, and self-love. While many fashion brands are expanding their size ranges, there’s still room for improvement in this area. If you own a clothing line or print-on-demand clothing store, consider making your brand size inclusive to show you care about making fashion available to all.
What does size inclusive mean?
Size inclusive means that clothes at a store or in an online shop are equally available in a wide range of sizes. As a concept, it acknowledges and aims to understand the different shapes and sizes of clothing that real people wear. Previously, small sizes were seen as the “norm” and available everywhere. Size inclusivity is trying to move away from that model.
The image below shows how influencers are talking about size inclusivity and the importance of offering a wide range of sizes.
Size inclusive is not the same as plus size. Plus size refers to clothing that is above the ‘‘normal size range,” and the term can make people wearing larger sizes feel othered. Nowadays, plus size is more of an identity for people to bond over fashion and body positivity.
Fashion brands offering plus sizes often only release a certain amount of items in extended sizes, they have a separate section for plus-size clothing, or only offer it online. This creates a feeling of division between people who can find their size anywhere, and those who can’t. Additionally, plus-size clothing has often been criticized for only creating certain fits (mostly loose-fitting) or limited styles, so not everyone has had the same fashion options.
With 67% of American women wearing a size 14 or larger, it doesn’t make sense for standard sizing, previously referred to as “straight sizes,” to only range from 0 to 12. Luckily, many fashion brands are expanding their clothing size offering, and it’s doing wonders for their brand image and revenue.
So, what is size-inclusive clothing? The term refers to clothing lines that cater to different body types, offering their entire collection in a wide range of sizes (for example, from 2XS to 5XL). The difference from plus-size clothing is that size-inclusive brands include all sizes in their drop-down menu or store racks—it’s not a separate collection or in a different section. This makes the shopping experience feel inclusive for every person, no matter their body shape and size.
Source: Universal Standard
An excellent example of size inclusivity is Simply Be’s campaign “No more bad fit.” They offer sizes 8 to 32 with each size tailor-fit to accommodate different body shapes and styles.
Source: Simply Be
At the moment, Universal Standard is one of the most size-inclusive brands out there, offering sizes ranging from 00 (4XS) to 40 (4XL). In an interview with Printemps, co-founder Alexandra Waldman said: “For us, inclusivity is a way to speak to all women, with no exceptions or discrimination. We wanted to refocus the debate and address the problems that women face when they get dressed.”
She makes a good point by saying, “Whether you’re a size 8 or 38, you should be able to walk into any store or visit any website and only ask yourself one question: ‘Do I like this?’ And not: ‘Does this come in my size?’”
Madewell is another brand doing it right. Source: Instagram
With the rise of social awareness concerning issues of size exclusion, we’ve seen an increasing amount of fashion brands removing size barriers and promoting size inclusion. A step further would be to offer clothing in a wider range of fits as well, to suit people of all sizes and preferences—petite, plus, unisex, and non-binary. After all, everybody needs to get dressed, no matter how tall we are or how we identify.
To see how we’ve gotten to this point, let’s take a quick look at the history of apparel industry sizing to show you why size inclusivity matters.
The fashion industry has long been dominated by men who promote the figure of what they consider to be an “ideal” woman. The problem with this “ideal figure” is that it doesn’t correspond to reality, which creates unrealistic expectations, provokes body shaming, and makes the average woman feel excluded or unworthy.
The body positivity movement started in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 1994 that the first plus-size model, Emme, made it into People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People. Bringing size inclusivity into the fashion world is the next step towards eliminating body shaming.
The appearance of social media is what really gave traction to the body-positive, anti-exclusion movement. Social media forced clothing brands to take notice, allowing customers to call them out when they’re not happy with a company’s advertising or offering.
In 2013, for example, Abercrombie & Fitch faced protests and backlash on Facebook and Twitter for not selling larger sizes. The CEO at the time, Mike Jeffries, responded by saying, “A lot of people don’t belong in our clothes, and they can’t. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” Naturally, this response didn’t reflect well on the company and their revenue took a major hit. Jeffries was fired soon after and the company has since tried to revamp its image.
Here’s another great example of how social media has helped bring size inclusivity to the main stream: earlier this year, Harvard grad and singer Samyra, called out US stores for not being size-inclusive and her TikTok video blew up. Lululemon even replied by saying they are working on adding a larger range of sizes to their catalog.
Not convinced? Let’s look at some of the reasons why every clothing line owner should offer size-inclusive options.
First of all, fashion brands that introduced size-inclusive clothing have seen a positive response from their audience. This fact alone shows that there is a real demand for size-inclusion. For example, American Eagle’s lingerie line Aerie started a campaign #AerieReal where they celebrate and promote clothing for all body shapes and sizes. As a result, thousands of people on Instagram tagged Aerie, expressing their gratitude for offering clothing and lingerie that fit.
Another example of how consumers feel about size inclusivity is the increasing amount of hashtag trends on Instagram, raising awareness and normalizing normal bodies like #normalizenormalbodies, #curvyfashion, or #stylehasnosize.
Besides the hype size-inclusive fashion gets on social media, research shows that 71% of people expect brands to promote diversity and inclusion in their advertising. Also, 70% of Gen Z consumers are more trusting of brands that represent diversity in ads. By making your clothing brand size-inclusive, you’ll gain consumer trust and meet their expectations.
It also makes sense financially for brands to change their ways. While size inclusive isn’t the same as plus size, the rising value of the global plus-size clothing market highlights the importance of expanding size ranges.
In 2021, the global plus-size clothing market was valued at $178.56 billion, and it’s expected to reach $696.71 billion by 2027. As more size-inclusive brands enter the scene, consumer demand for extended sizes continues to grow. In fact, a survey showed that 81% of women currently labeled as “plus-size” would spend more on clothing if they had more options.
Whether you’re wondering how to start a clothing brand or you already own one, you should be asking yourself, “how can I make my clothing line more size-inclusive?” Let’s look at a few tips to get you started.
The fashion industry is ever-changing, but the size-inclusive movement shows no signs of slowing down. Below are several actionable steps you can take to add inclusive sizing to your online clothing store.
This first tip may seem obvious, but some fashion brands haven’t quite understood the assignment. Adding just a few sizes above the “standard sizes” doesn’t really count as truly inclusive sizing.
According to a new study from the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, the average size of an American woman is 16 to 18 (L to XL). Some brands like Zara extended their sizes from XS to XXL and call it size-inclusive. But, if you offer 7 sizes below the average, why would you only offer 2 sizes above? To truly call yourself a size-inclusive brand, do extended sizing right—think of Universal Standard as an example.
Choosing the right print-on-demand partner will determine whether or not you have size-inclusive clothes to add to your store. Printful offers plenty of size-inclusive clothing options in our catalog that you can add to your online store. For example, our all-over print pants and leggings, like these All-Over Print Leggings with Pockets, go from 2XS to 6XL.
Some of our custom t-shirts and hoodies go up to 5XL, like our Unisex Staple T-Shirt or Premium Eco Hoodie. We also offer a gorgeous all-over print Long-Sleeve Midi Dress and Recycled Unisex Mesh Shorts that range from 2XS to 6XL for people of all body shapes.
Most online shoppers like to see how clothes fit someone their own size before making a purchase. Plus, offering diverse product visuals helps to better showcase your clothes. If you look at most images or mannequins in the apparel industry, they’re still mostly petite figures.
Show your customers you cater to everyone, no matter their body shape or size. Using different-sized models is essential to doing that. Hire models, get your friends to help out for a photo shoot, or reach out to plus-size influencers. Many plus-size influencers are redefining the fashion industry, like @itsmekellieb, @thebaileyp, or @ceceolisa.
It’s beautiful to see more diversity not only in models’ body shapes but also in other parameters like ethnicity. They’re helping to empower people of all backgrounds to feel represented, heard, and celebrated. For example, Bishamber Das was the first major Asian plus-size model in the UK.
Thaddeus Coates (@hippypotter) is a Black plus-size queer model who has appeared in Vogue.
Want an example of how you can show models of different sizes on your social media feed? Check out @knownsupply’s summer outfit collection.
Of course, hiring models or influencers can be expensive, but don’t fret. Printful mockups also have different models that you can display in your size-inclusive line.
To improve your customers’ shopping experience, add a clear sizing chart for each item. This way, shoppers can know which size to buy instead of having to guess and order multiple sizes to see which fits.
Every kind of garment has a specific list of measurements. For example, for t-shirts you should indicate the length and chest area, for pants, there’s more to consider—length, 1/2 waist length, inseam length, front rise, and 1/2 hem width.
Also, add a body measurement guide to help your customers determine which size fits them best. An easy trick you can share with your customers is to compare your size chart with a similar garment they already own. You can find a size guide and clear sizing chart example on our products by clicking Size guide above the sizes available.
You should also mention whether each garment is loose-fitting or tight-fitting, whether they should size up or down if between sizes, and whether the fabric is stretchy. Also, mention the fabric weight and composition. For tops, mention the type of neckline, and for bottoms, note whether they’re high-waist or low-waist.
Don’t forget to consider your audience and indicate measurements in both inches and centimeters if needed.
Straight sizes are so 2000 and late. It’s time to step up your game and include extended sizing not only in your collections but in your brand’s marketing campaign as well. Once you make your brand size-inclusive, let consumers know about it. Shout it from the mountaintops and don’t be afraid to stand for inclusive style and fashion.
Below are a few ways you can market your clothing line.
Offer new customers a discount code when they sign up for your email list. Make this a pop-up window on your website to collect emails. Discover the best email marketing strategies here.
Source: Girlfriend Collective
Connect and engage with your audience
Sustainable fashion brand Altar does an awesome job of making their insta feed friendly and inclusive—just look at owner Cassie Ridgway dancing with her besties to promote size inclusivity.
Use influencer marketing
Find influencers that fit your brand image and hire them to showcase your clothing or offer them free clothes in exchange for exposure. Look how Eloquii partnered with influencer Lauren Nicole or how Chloe Xandria shares outfit inspo from @hollisterco.
Create a marketing calendar
custA big part of marketing is staying consistent, meaning a marketing calendar is your best friend. Check out our tutorial on how to create a marketing calendar. We also offer a free ecommerce holiday calendar so you can keep up with all the festivities.
If you’re on a budget, you’ll love these ideas on how to market your online store for $50 or less. Remember to advertise your inclusive sizing options, show your clothes on plus-size models, and share body-positive content.
Being truly size-inclusive also means offering the same price for items in different sizes. Sadly, not every brand abides by these standards. For example, @FreetobeOK called out the popular online store Boohoo for offering a more expensive version of the same dress in a larger size vs. a smaller size.
Companies argue that there are some logical reasons for plus-size clothing to be more expensive: they require more material to produce, the material has to be sturdier, and the original design needs altering. The issue is that this price gap doesn’t help shoppers feel included, but rather segregated and discriminated against.
So, what is size-inclusive pricing? To keep prices the same for all sizes. True size-inclusive brands aim to provide the same experience in both their straight and extended sizes. This means they should work to nuetralize any additional costs of a wider size range across the line.
To create larger sizes, you just take a standard design and make it bigger, right? Wrong. The reason many clothing brands are missing the mark is that they fail to consider how proportions change on different bodies. Standard-size clothing adheres to a certain shape, but that body shape changes as sizes go up or down.
To make different styles of clothing that fit just as well on someone with a size 5XL as on an M-sized person, the designer needs to reconsider the design as a whole. It’s not just important to make a different size available but to make it cut correctly and look fly.
For example, @streetsbeatseats displays how Aerie has improved its sizing to fit real bodies by showing how the same size AE/Aerie lounge shorts looked in the early 2000s vs. 2022.
When choosing extended sizing for your print-on-demand clothing store, make sure the supplier designs clothes to fit different body types and styles.
With the increased demand for inclusive sizing, brands are striving to meet consumer needs. The good news for you as a clothing line owner is that there is still a large gap in the market. This means you can easily make your brand stand out from the crowd and give the people what they want.
Remember to always stay true to your heart and be honest about what you can offer. In the beginning, it may be hard to offer all your collections in a wide range of sizes. But as time goes on, you’ll be glad you jumped at the chance to be more inclusive (and your customers will be too).
Inclusive sizing is more than just an equal shopping experience—it’s a philosophy promoting body positivity, self-love, and acceptance. Don’t those sound like values your brand should get behind?
Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa
Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.