Inclusive Sizing – Petite, Plus, Unisex and Non-Binary
We all get dressed every day regardless of our size, stature, gender, or how we identify. The promotional products industry, like retail, has a history of adhering to narrow ideas of gender expression and ideal body type. So when corporations break sizeism barriers and rise for size inclusivity – we want to know about it. All bodies should have access to quality, sustainable, ethical wear that fits their needs, and size inclusivity is increasingly on our radar when looking at new suppliers and new lines of apparel to offer our clients.
What Does Size-Inclusive Mean?
“Size inclusive” or “size inclusivity” is not just about plus sizes, and it’s not just for women. The movement is about providing clothing that is considerate of all bodies and identities. The term size-inclusive means that brands build a wide range of size options in all of their styles and don’t simply add on “plus sizing” in a few core styles.
In the past few years, we’ve begun asking our suppliers to showcase ethnically diverse models to better reflect the communities we live and work in. We also want to see suppliers use models of all sizes and pronouns. We know in order to show size-inclusive styles, you have to have the product on offer – and raising the issue with our suppliers, will help us get a broader range of options to our clients.
Straight Sizes Vs Plus Sizes
Straight sizing is apparel sized between XS to XL. Anything above is considered Plus Sized. The majority of our suppliers have sizing that goes up to 2XL but an ideal size run would look something like XXS to 5XL+. The truth is there are few options to choose from within this range.
Having limited options is our current reality. Within staple products like t-shirts, we can generally access the broader range of sizing but as we move beyond the basics the options are more limited. Interestingly, the promotional product industry does better than many retail and fashion brands in this space. While fashion brands may target a certain demographic or community, by our nature, corporate apparel has to reflect a broad range of body types.
Our industry often segregates plus sizes and adds a premium upcharge beyond 2XL. Authentic size-inclusive brands will want to create the same experience in both their straight sizes and plus sizes and amortize any additional costs of a broader size range across the line so the price is the same regardless of size. The fashion leading experts put it best; brands should embrace inclusive sizing and take it on as a company philosophy.
We see the apparel industry adjusting to provide more opportunities for all bodies. And we’re looking at size inclusivity as a way to add to our efforts to support the brands who monitor their environmental and social impact—the sourcing of the materials, the materials themselves, and the people involved in production and distribution.
Identifying Your Cut
Men’s apparel tends to be cut straight, longer, and is more loose-fitting. Women’s cuts are fitted and shorter. Since we all don’t identify with the Male and Female gender constraints, our fashion sense won’t necessarily either. Gender norms are progressing, but the apparel industry lives and breathes Men’s and Women’s sizing and is still playing catch-up.
Unisex apparel is usually a straight cut (like Men’s t-shirts) but offered in a wider size range. A unisex line always includes an XS, beyond that it’s a men’s cut t-shirt. A shift towards Unisex sizing and styles can be a more straightforward solution to getting different styles for individuals but can also come across as dismissive of people’s identities. Unisex apparel can be a good solution for events, where you’re not sure of the audience mix. That said, if you have a lot of women on your team – defaulting to unisex sizing will feel like you’re buying your t-shirts for guys, with the women as an afterthought.
The Tech industry has been guilty of perpetuating a bro culture and will only shed this look by acknowledging the diversity of its employees. Choosing Men’s or unisex sizing for your entire team will perpetuate the issue.
Navigating Your Options
If you have found that perfect piece of clothing that you would love for your team, investigate the other options available in plus sizes or vice versa to help fill those gaps. Accessibility can be tricky in these situations, as you want every team member to have a similar experience and a good experience.
In a world that’s embracing a nonbinary movement, we want our vendors to go beyond the Men and Women gendered constraints and straight sizing. Can’t we create size curves for ALL bodies?
Brands with Size Inclusivity in Mind
Here are a handful of the brands we love and who are doing it right and offering a broad range of sizes across all their lines:
Attraction | Consistently sizing XS to 3XL or 4XL
Known Supply | Sizing XS to 4XL
Storm Creek | Sizing XS or S up to 3XL, 4XL and 5XL
TriMark Sports Wear | Sizing XS or S up to 3XL or 5XL
Are you purchasing for an event and need help with what sizes to get? Try our handy
Apparel Size Curve Calculator.