The trouble with sizing by Tottie Owen-Smith
Posted on Tuesday, November 26 2019 12:52:00 PM in News by Karen Lee
At Selkie we welcome and value feedback and pride ourselves on listening to the comments we receive about our products. And, wherever possible, we embrace suggestions on how we can improve our range of swimwear, clothing, and accessories to make sure it meets the needs of our community.
Over the years, we have received various feedback about our approach to sizing. And more recently, we have been asked frequently why we didn't make our products available in bigger sizes and smaller sizes too! Although we do understand your question, despite our desire to provide a fully inclusive range of Selkie products, we do face some issues with accommodating every size.
In 2017 we made the decision to manufacture our own products, to have full control over the quality, design and sustainability of our garments. But we soon realised it wouldn’t be an easy process! Finding factories that would work with us was challenging because, as a small brand, we couldn’t buy in the quantities they required - upwards of 500 items per piece.
Determined for most of our collection to be produced within the EU, we finally found a factory in Portugal prepared to lower its minimum order quantities and manufacture our swimsuits using fabric made from Econyl yarn (a recycled polyamide made from marine and industrial plastic waste). Even so, from our previous position of ordering 10 pieces in each size, we were stretched to increase our minimum order 15-fold, to 150 garments per size.
The impact for us across our swimwear range was significant, as we needed to stock purchase 2,100 pieces - a lot for any small brand - and especially for us as swimwear is, in fact, the smallest range we stock.
So we reluctantly had to make some choices. Historically we had been told multiple times that swimwear for open water swimmers in a size 8 was considered too small. We took this on board and dropped the size 8 from our range so we could expand the upper size limit to include size 18. (Your feedback also told us that the old labeling of XS to XXL wasn’t popular, so we switched to sizing by numbers). Our new range of swimwear came out in size 10 to 18.
Now guess what is the most common question after ‘Why don’t you make larger sizes?
Yes, of course: ‘Why don’t you stock a size 8?”
The answer is that we hate to "exclude" anyone and, in an ideal world, we would cater for all shapes and sizes. Although we could look to China to manufacture cheaply so that we could produce a larger, more inclusive sizing range, it simply wouldn’t fit with our core values. Our sustainability policy of not stockpiling, not flying stock in from the far east, and only using the best possible materials, would all be compromised. Sustainability is at the heart of the Selkie brand, so this isn’t a viable option for us.
So, we are truly sorry to disappoint some, we had to disappoint some of our #TeamSelkie even, but we will increase our sizing range as soon as we can. In the meantime, anyone looking for amazing swimwear in larger sizes should check out the fabulous Deakin and Blue, who stock sizes 8 to 20, and manufacture all their swimwear in the UK.
Tottie Owen-Smith is Operations Director at Selkie and has been with us from the start, she also handles all of our sourcing and procurement.