Wednesday, 25 January 2017

‘One-Size Fits All’ Clothing: Is It Ethical?

by Rebecca Pascoe

Shops that sell ‘one size fits all’ clothing are a heavily debated topic within the fashion world, as they cause some controversy over issues such as body image and the message that is given out to girls across the world. This trend began in the American brand ‘Brandy Melville’, whose store only contains clothes that are one size, and this sizing relates to an extra small/small in normal sizes. American Eagle have also joined this trend with a range of their clothing. The business ethics of this can be questioned, as one could argue that the customer is being unfairly exploited and treated unfairly, by some segments of the women’s clothing market not being given a chance to buy the products.

However, it could be said that this is no different to other types of segmentation, and that there are thousands of other shops which do offer a diverse range of sizes. The main issue that brands such as this face are whether they are discriminating against certain body types, and making people who don’t fit their ‘one size’ clothes feel outcasted and as if they are not normal. This can contribute to negative body image and low self esteem, which is already a prominent problem in today’s society. Despite this, from a business point of view it does reduce production costs, meaning that the business can get a higher profit margin. But this doesn’t excuse the impact on the people.

The question is whether it is right for companies to brand their products as one size fits all when it is clear from surveys that the clothes do not in fact fit all people. This could be argued as false advertising. Some people would say in response to this issue that if you choose to shop at Brandy Melville, or other stores who operate a one size policy, that it is illogical to be unhappy and allow the clothes to make you feel bad, as it is a personal choice where to buy clothes. It might just make more sense for people to choose to shop elsewhere where they know they will find their size. Contrastingly, it isn’t just about personal choice. It is also about the marketing and the way in which young girls feel they should look. If these brands are presenting an idealistic image of what one size should look like, this can have very serious ramifications on today’s youth.

There are many opinions regarding whether this is the fault of fashion brands, however. Perhaps these issues are being projected onto certain fashions, when the problem could be solved by more teachings about body image in schools, so that people don’t feel so impacted by what they see in the media. 

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