Sizing woes a Standards issue

Trying to find the right size clothing can be like navigating the minefield that is our clothing size system in Australia. It usually requires taking three different sizes into the change room, or buying them online and returning the duds. The problem is that there is no official sizing system in Australia. The Australian Standard Size Coding Scheme for women’s clothing was scrapped in 2009, leaving designers and manufacturers to develop their own sizing charts based on consumer feedback.

Brands will often employ “vanity sizing” — creating sizes bigger than the usual size — because like it or not, the number on the tag creates an emotional response for most women. But many brands are relying on old customer profiles, which don’t reflect how our bodies have changed. The average Australian woman weighs 71.1kg and is a size 14-16, according to recent ABS data. This is not reflected in the manufacture of the majority of fashion product in Australia.

Consumers Federation of Australia (CFA) representative Anita McAdam is a member of the Standards Australia technical committee CS-092 Sizing systems for clothing. The committee is supporting Australian participation in the international ISO TC 133, which is developing standardization of sizing systems for clothes based on size designation, body size measurement methods for clothing and for digital garment fitting. CFA nominates representatives to Standards Australia Technical Committees as part of the CFA Standards Project.

Consumers can influence standards by becoming a Consumers’ Federation of Australia representative on a Standards Australia Technical Committee, making public comment on draft standards and suggesting new standards. If you are interested in finding out more about the Project and/or becoming a volunteer CFA Standards Representative please contact the Standards Coordinator at