The Impact of Fashion Sizing Inconsistencies on Returns and Landfill Dumping.

Through online shopping, the fashion industry is seeing more returns than before. Fashion producers have made standardized sizing the norm which does not consider the differences of bodies, and consequently causes a negative sense of self.


Fashion sizing inconsistencies exist because while ordering clothes online people do not focus on whether or not the clothes will fit when they receive them. Fast fashion exists on the take-make-use-dispose spectrum, an already dangerous method. However, returned items are far worse because they just end up in the landfill. It is no surprise that consumers are not aware of what happens to their returned items, this is in addition to the alienation that exists within the production chain.

Fast fashion producers are most likely to get rid of returned items because it costs less to produce new items instead of using what already exists and, through this, the cycle of waste persists. Individuals also complain about the self-esteem issues caused by sizing inconsistencies.

The negative effects of online shopping.

Since the beginning of lockdowns across the globe over a year ago, many people have turned to online shopping. According to Sara Needham, from the center of Sustainable Fashion at the University of Arts London, the flow of goods to customers and back to retailers is flawed both from an economic and environmental perspective. Fashion producers are aware that their creations end in a landfill and this contributes greatly to their use and loss of precious resources which are becoming scarce.

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Returns also create a massive carbon footprint and a real problem for companies. Many companies do not have the technology and resources to handle the differences in goods, for example, a returned t-shirt requires a separate process than that of a returned pair of shoes. They then resort to either selling the goods cheaply to discounters via shipping, driving, and flying them around the globe or, simply dumping them. With digital marketplaces and e-commence becoming so common, it is only a matter of time before consumers return each item they purchase online, especially due to inconsistent fast fashion sizing.

Standardized Sizing

Fashion producers created standardized sizing to cut costs within the fashion industry. This tendency created a problem that cannot be solved, because there is no standard size when it comes to different bodies. Standardized sizing is discriminatory because it has one type of woman in mind and does not consider women of different shapes. Discrepancies in sizing pose a threat to individual ideas of self-esteem, as we have seen with the rise of plus-size fashion. Plus-size fashion designers have widened the sizing scope, but there is still the issue of shape and fit.


Clothes sizes don’t exists and company’s just make them up : change my mind #fyp #selflove #loveyourself #normalisenormalbodies #bodypositivity #asos

♬ Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield

Fast fashion’s inconsistent sizing is attributed to several factors such as not accounting for the qualities of different fabrics, high-speed production and the lack of quality control. The contributing factors to inconsistent sizing are the building blocks of fast fashion production. However, with technology advancing and consumers being more conscious of their fashion choices we should be discussing solutions and not more problems.

Buying clothes online has advanced the sizing problem because unlike at a store where there are fitting rooms and different sizes, most consumers purchase the size they believe to be theirs. The online shopping process has contributed to people being less in touch with the fit of their clothes and their size because they buy items according to how they’re styled on fashion models. Fortunately for us there are new technologies to help us reduce the scope of waste, body image issues and, carbon emissions.


Fit Analytics is a company made of a team of data scientists, engineers, and designers. The fit analytics teams are working together to make it easier for the world’s best apparel firms to connect customers with clothes that fit. Although much more can be done to solve the inconsistencies in sizing, companies like Fit Analytics are researching to advise their e-commerce customers and limiting the number of returns every year. Another strategy they use is, upon clicking the sizing guide a window pops up and asks about things like the customer’s height, age, weight, bra-size, preferred garment fit, and so forth.



Although fashion producers and distributors still have a long way to go to ensure that fewer clothes are dumped in the landfill, that sizing charts are more inclusive and carbon emissions are cut in half, consumers should never accept the status quo. The fashion industry and production chains are known to cut costs at the expense of people and the planet, but those days are over. We should use technology to ensure that we no longer have the space for exploitation of the planet and workers. Most importantly we need to ensure that what people order online fits their bodies to minimize returns, while also encouraging them to visit brick and mortar stores when they can.

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