Australian Clothing Brands Should Be Embarrassed By Their Glaring Lack Of Size Consistency

It should shock no one that the Australian fashion industry is fatphobic. But the fact brands routinely get away not just with incredibly narrow sizing, but inconsistent sizing, is tear-your-hair-out frustrating.

I’m what I would call a pretty standard Australian size 14. In recent months though, I’ve found it virtually impossible to find clothes which consistently fit me — particularly when ordering online. It seems like every brand has a completely different size guide, and a number of brands go up to a small size 14 at the most.

A number of my favourite creators and writers are the fat activists I follow. Their work exposing how deeply entrenched fatphobia is in our society and the way it’s rooted in racism, colonialism, classism and patriarchy is frankly one of the important, radical forefronts of social justice today. 

And while thanks to these creators, we’re finally able to have much needed conversations about fatphobia in fashion, Australian brands still deserve to be called out for both the narrowness of their sizing and the lack of consistency.

In the last month, I have ordered the following things online: a size 14 skirt (slightly too big but cute, so I kept it), a size 16 top (so tiny it wouldn’t zip up), and a size 14 pair of jeans which were too small. I exchanged them for the size 16s, which were too big. Literally make it make sense. 

I understand no item of clothing will fit two bodies the same way, even if those two bodies are the same clothing size. There are probably some clothes which will never fit me in a way that makes me feel good, no matter what size I order them in.

But the fact that two items of clothing — sometimes from the same brand — can be such wildly different sizes is deeply, deeply frustrating. It’s also peak capitalism: brands charge tens if not hundreds of dollars for clothes but fail to ensure the sizing is consistent. Is this not your job!!!

There’s also the essential fact that a number of popular Australian brands don’t cater for any size beyond a size 14, which is disgusting, embarrassing, and something activists have been rightfully shaming for decades. My body should not be the largest body you are catering for, not by a long fkn shot.

These brands often don’t just lack a genuinely accessible size range, but also fail to create clothing which is consistently true to size. This is a huge indictment of Australia’s fashion industry. I could not care less if I’m a size 12,14 or 16 but I’m sick of playing a wild guessing game between the three every time I want to order online or bring an item to the dressing room.

What’s even more frustrating is when brands which are labelled as ethical and size-inclusive pull this shit too.

I have a pair of shorts in a size 12 from a popular Aussie brand particularly known for its size inclusivity. I love these shorts. Since buying them a year ago, I have worn them approximately once a week. So when I saw the brand had a new print in the shorts, I unthinkingly ordered a size 12 again.

In the brand’s defence, I should’ve checked the size guide. If I had, I would have ordered the shorts a size or maybe even two up. But I didn’t think I needed to, because I have other clothing from this brand!

Imagine my dismay when I pulled the new shorts out of their packaging to find they were several inches smaller on the waist than my older pair. Maybe there’s a chance there was a manufacturing error, or something beyond the shop’s control. But what I don’t understand is, if brands are changing their size guides — why?

Is it so bad if your clothes run big? Is it the end of the world if a pair of shorts caters to the biggest person in that size bracket rather than the smallest?

I’m not going to call for brands to do better, because fat activists have been begging for that for decades and by and large, the brands haven’t done anything.

And while I hope the Australian fashion industry will actually put in the hard yards to be consistent and accessible, I’m far from convinced it will.