Redefining our sizing
It is no secret that when it comes to sizing the fashion industry still has a long way to go. From the need for brands themselves to be more inclusive, all the way through to a wider variety of sizes being available in wholesalers and also the sizes which are portrayed in both .
Sizing is something which Heidi has held very close to her heart since the day she began Aesthetic Laundry. From being trained at university to only draw designs onto elongated, thin figures, through to the sizing availability in the corporate world she worked in prior to starting her business, these are just two examples of the stigma around sizing that exists in the industry.
It is vary rare - if not impossible - to have a 'one size fits all' garment and don't get me wrong, I understand the need for a size label otherwise we will never get close to finding something which fits; however I do think that the industry often overlooks how wonderfully unique in shape and height we are and rather than trying to accommodate, it has us shoehorned into particular size categories. It is this categorisation that we are trying to redefine.
Order any Aesthetic Laundry garment and you will notice a different message on your size label. These labels were implemented in the first collection Heidi launched when Aesthetic Laundry was still a one-woman company, each garment designed and made from Heidi's bedroom. She no longer wanted 'S' to mean Small and 'L' to mean Large - because at the end of the day, we are all so much more than our size.
Aesthetic Laundry Garment Label: M for Mighty Fine
Fast forward to 2020 and Heidi knew there was more than needed to be done. She spoke with Phoebe Jameson - a body confidence activist and mental health worker - in an incredibly candid conversation around mental health, fat shaming and the work that still needs to be done in the fashion industry to change the way we view sizing. Although filmed a while ago it is still an incredibly relevant conversation and Phoebe is certainly one to follow as she is doing such incredibly things for the younger generation and mental health, so if you have some time to spare their video is certainly worth a watch (or even just a listen).
March 2020: Heidi with mental health activist Phoebe Jameson
Not longer after the conversation with Phoebe, the first national lockdown came into place and although (like every other small business) we had to pivot and reprioritise how we were working, the conversation around being more inclusive didn't end. At the time our sizing offering was S - XXL and although we wanted this to increase, producing small batches of stock meant we never had less than 5 garments on the shelf in any one style. This doesn't sound like much, but for example if you offer just 12 styles (5 jumpers, 4 t-shirts and 3 joggers) that is a minimum of 60 items on the shelf.
So in September of 2020 we made - what was a very big decision when we are such a tiny business - to switch our business model to Made to Order. After many months of conversations we decided that in order to truly grow but in a way that still supported our values then we had to take the leap.
By offering Made to Order, it allowed us the option to increase our size offering. By no longer holding stock on the shelves, we weren't in danger of over producing and being left with waste at the end of the season. Instead we were able to immediately start to work on increasing our size range, whilst simultaneously look into how to grow the team in order to be in a position to make your garments to order.
Our Made to Order business model
For the launch of October's Autumn Winter collection, we were able to finally say we offered XS - 5XL. This was monumental for Heidi as it was something she had wanted to do for so long. The launch of the increased sizing was by no means perfect; patterns were created and tweaked and although we sampled on fit models, this was only a small pool of people, and so we heavily relied on customer feedback over the coming months who have really helped us gain a better understanding of our fits. I will openly say that I think at times Heidi and I don't realise our own biases when it comes to sizing and that is why it is so important to continually be having conversations with both customers and those working in the industry who similarly to us want to learn and do more to be more inclusive.
Which brings us to today. We compiled all the feedback we received for our fits for Autumn Winter, in order to drive new patterns for almost every garment style in our Spring Summer collection. We sampled our clothes on fit models in each size and were able to also produce our Fit Guide, which will hopefully give you an idea of our fits based on a body that is similar to yours.
We are by no means perfect, my god do we have a long way to go. But if we compare to where we were this time last year, then here is hoping that this time next year we will have taken some more pretty big steps forward on our goal to becoming more inclusive.
Thank you for reading! xx