If you've ever bought a pair of jeans at H&M (or a shirt or a bra or, well, anything for that matter), you probably know that their women's sizing makes no sense. Their dressing room has historically been nothing short of a battlefield, simply because it’s always been impossible to know what the heck size you are in any given article of clothing. In my own personal closet, I have H&M clothes in every size from a 2 to a 10 — each of which, somehow, fit.
The Swedish store has thankfully — or should we say, finally — decided to update its sizing structure to be more reflective of the rest of the industry. Garments in H&M stores now bear hang tags that read, “You’ve asked, we’ve listened! We’re changing our sizing. Try on this item to find your size,” as Racked recently discovered.
So, what exactly does this mean?
"H&M in the USA will be updating their sizing structure for ladies’ customers starting with new Summer and Fall 2018 products,” a spokesperson for the brand told TODAY Style, adding that this will affect the U.K., U.S., Canada, Mexico and Colombia locations. "We always want to listen to our customers and their feedback. The new sizing will be more in line with the North American sizing standard and the retail landscape of the market."
The brand first began to make this shift in late 2017 for the H&M Divided collection, when they updated their XS-XXL sizing by one standard deviation (meaning that if you used to be a medium, you’re now a small) and adding size XXS to make up the difference, the spokesman confirmed. The next phase will make the same sort of shift within numbered sizing — so if you were formerly a size 12, you’d now be a 10.
This may seem like a step in the right direction — and will certainly make visits to the dressing room marginally less dramatic — but some feel that it’s not enough, especially when it comes to inclusivity. The brand made headlines in 2016 for casting plus-sized model Ashley Graham in their campaign without carrying plus-sized clothing in stores.
“Unfortunately, H&M’s efforts to adjust their sizing have missed the mark. Giving a size 12 garment a size 10 tag only helps the size-14 women who can now fit into a 12,” Lauren Chan, fashion editor and former plus-size model” told TODAY. "More importantly, it sends the message that having a smaller number on the inside of your dress is better and that can be harmful to peoples’ self-worth.” She notes that the brand has said that they’re expanding some of their core collection styles to size 18 on their website, but wonders why these efforts haven’t been put forth in their stores.
The H&M representative said their plus-size offerings will include up to a size 26 in select stores and on HM.com moving forward.
Though H&M isn’t quite there yet, Chan has seen commendable progress from other affordable brands. ”Asos sets a good example for inclusive sizing in fast-fashion,” she says. "As I speak, their site has 3,675 plus-size options — many of them about as trendy as you can get in bigger sizes — compared to H&M’s 239. And they’ve recently made the news for using unretouched images of models.”
Finding a pair of jeans that actually fits you at H&M (that is, if they carry your size) may now require less random guesswork, but it also highlights an important lesson.
“Remember that the number on your clothes does not define you,” said Chan. "Cut the damn tag off if you need to!”