A Fit for Purpose: Sizing Matters

By Nick Smith

We’ve been steadily increasing our size ranges and leg length options over the last few years. So when adding a size 18 we felt it was significant, only because so few companies were offering it in their technical clothing. We will move to size 20 and 22 as soon as our order quantities allow commercially.

However, we knew we needed to know more. 

What started as a conversation, a chance to listen, quickly morphed into a survey where we received an amazing 922 respondents.

The Industry Needs to Listen.

When you read what women feel about shopping for outdoor clothing, it’s an eye opener and absolutely alien to our Alpkit DNA.

We believe elitism has no place in the outdoors, we are all equal. How can we possibly enjoy the outdoors more than someone else. It’s there for everyone. Turns out we were wrong.

How can you possibly enjoy the worst of a Lake District storm if you can’t buy a decent mountain shell in the size that fits you.

We’ve all been quietly enjoying the outdoors but specifically excluding people just because they can’t find equipment that works for them.

We are all seeing an attitude change to race and gender equality in the outdoors, which is a fantastic and much needed step in the right direction, but this is a more subtle, more unspoken form of exclusion.

We Asked: How Does Shopping for Women's Outdoor Clothing in the UK Make you Feel?

“Short and too curvy”

“Uncomfortable. I'm very happy with/confident about my body but why cant it fit?? If it fits my hips it's too big on the waist, some trousers are really short!? I'd be fine if they were in line with high street fits or maybe need to include slim fit/relaxed fit”

“Not great - it’s so hard to find clothes that fit and that are not frumpy and pink!”

“Unwelcome” “Lumpy and ashamed to be honest"

“It makes me cry. It leaves me upset and embarrassed”

"like I don't belong in the outdoors”

“Makes me feel like I can't be appropriately kitted out for wanting to get back into the outdoors. Having gained weight through lockdown clothing feels like a barrier to me getting back to the things I love”

This wasn’t isolated to plus sizes, it was across the board. But there is clearly a cross section of the population that feels very uncatered for.

The reason for writing about this is to make a point that Alpkit is listening, and the industry needs to listen too.

We Asked: What is Your Experience of Shopping for Outdoor Clothing in the UK?

Nearly a fifth of all respondents hated shopping for technical clothing

The lack of choice forces Women to look at Men's options



A Call to Action

It's simple. The more choice, the easier it is to find something that works for you, yet currently the majority of technical clothing from retailers and brands comes in just size 8, 10, 12 and 14.

Advnture.com recently reivewed the best wateproof jackets from a dozen premium brands. Household names. Just 2 brands make size 18 jackets (Alpkit and Salamon) and the others make to size 16. 

This should be a call to action for the industry as a whole. Everyone accepts that we come in lots of shapes and sizes and not one company can offer all the leg lengths, body widths or tailored fits to suit all its customers. But if more companies offered more options, the industry as a whole can be more inclusive and less elitist. Choice is the key here.

We feel this survey has re-enforced what we've already been doing, but it's also helped highlight what a critical and immediate issue this. We know our part is to offer more sizes and more fits across mens and ladies, and make sure we continue our ground up design of ladies garments.

We’ll continue to listen, to make sure that everyone can enjoy the outdoors in clothing that fits and is fit for purpose.

A big thank you to Zoe Newham who helped and initiated the sizing survey. Zoe is a kayaking coach based in Scotland. 

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