A Fit for Purpose: Sizing Matters

A Fit for Purpose: Sizing Matters

By Alex Guerrero

We’re working on size inclusivity. We’ve been steadily increasing our size ranges and leg length options over the last few years, including launching a men’s XS and women’s 6 and 20. We want everyone and every body to be able to Go Nice Places Do Good Things.

In 2020, Advnture reviewed waterproofs across the industry. Only 2 brands made up to a size 18 – Alpkit and Salomon. Lack of kit should never stop people doing what they love. Ever! Here’s our journey towards being size inclusive.

Our Journey to Size Inclusivity

  1. Our Survey 2021
  2. What Are We Doing?
  3. What Can The Industry Do?

Our Survey 2021

Last year, we worked with Zoe Newham, a kayaking coach based in Scotland, to design this survey. We had an amazing 922 respondents. Thank you, Zoe!

We do recognise that our survey will not have reached everyone it needed to - or been filled in by every outdoor enthusiast who has had difficult experiences finding appropriate kit. The results cannot speak for everyone’s experiences. But they’re a very, very good start.

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”

These feelings weren’t isolated to customers who buy plus size clothing. It was across the board. We understand that many women and men have a long history of traumatic experiences trying to buy kit that fits, makes them feel comfortable and makes them feel welcome in the outdoors.

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

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Nearly a fifth of all respondents hated shopping for technical clothing. But a simple ‘yes/no’ question doesn’t represent how complicated these emotions and experiences are.

The lack of choice for women forces some customers to look at men’s options. This experience was most common for plus-sized customers.

Straight-size customers (size 8-14) most commonly have no issues shopping for outdoors kit. This is likely because they can access options in their size across all brands.

What Are We Doing?

Size inclusivity is critical. We definitely don’t have all the answers. But we’re on a journey. Here are the five main steps we’re taking this year:

Extending Size Ranges

In 2021, we added a size 18 to our range. We were one of very few outdoors companies offering this size range in their technical clothing. This year, we’re proud to be adding size 6 and size 20 for women and XS for men with every restock of our product line. Outside of our clothing range, we’re also releasing our Sonder Camino in an XS. Another step in the right direction!

But this isn’t enough for the customers whose sizes are still not included. There are many, many more steps to take.

Every one of our product lines will be available in every size we do. Online and in store. Everyone deserves the same amount of choice. No more rooting around for the one waterproof available in your size!

Product Development

We’ve invested in our product team with a focus on looking at sizing for a broader range of bodies. We’re working hard on the consistency and grading of our fit. And we design our women’s products from the ground up.

We're Listening

Last year, we spoke to one of our customers, Zoe Newham. We had some long chats with her and she helped us design this survey. We’ve also been talking to @every_body_outdoors. They’re a campaign on a mission to fight for representation for plus-sized bodies in the outdoors. Thank you to these women for sharing their lived experience and expertise with us.

Increasing Representation

Alongside our conversations with @every_body_outdoors, we are working behind the scenes to increase our representation of a range of bodies on social media and in photoshoots.

Training

We are implementing training for all staff, including how to make customers of all backgrounds, shapes and sizes feel valued and welcome in our stores and the outdoors.

What Can The Industry Do?

The outdoors is for everyone. There is no place for elitism outside. But how can you possibly enjoy the worst of a Lake District downpour if you can’t find a waterproof that fits?

The solution might seem simple but the majority of women’s technical clothing from retailers and brands comes in just sizes 8, 10, 12 and 14. There is an urgent lack of size- and fit-appropriate options for those who fall outside of this range. We, as an industry, need to do better for both men and women.

In 2020, Advnture.com reviewed the best waterproof jackets from a dozen premium brands. Household names. Just 2 brands made size 18 jackets (Alpkit and Salomon). The others made to size 16. 

This should be a call to action for the industry as a whole. Limiting size ranges limits people’s experiences. We need to offer more choice. Be more inclusive. And less elitist.

A big thank you to Zoe Newham who helped and initiated the sizing survey. Zoe is a kayaking coach based in Scotland. And a huge thank you to Every Body Outdoors, who have been instrumental in our approach to becoming more size inclusive.

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