J. Crew, purveyor of the $250 Collection Jeweled Paillette Boy Shirt (pictured right), has added a new size to its spectrum: 000. Because 00 wasn’t small enough? Because we’re all dieting so much that we need something to wear before we disappear? Because obesity is a myth?
Actually the retailer says it’s responding to feedback from Asia.
“We are simply addressing the demand coming from Asia for smaller sizes than what we had carried. Our sizes typically run big and the Asia market tends to run small,” a company spokesperson told CNBC. “To further put into perspective, these sizes add up to the smallest possible percentage of our overall sizing assortment.”
But others say that it’s “vanity sizing,” a manipulation of the sizing chart to make customers feel better. But seriously, does anyone feel better saying, “I’m a triple zero?”
Full disclosure: I love J. Crew. But this is more than a little silly.
Of course, J. Crew could just change its sizing such that clothing bearing a 0 or 2 size is smaller than what it is now. Don’t make the numbers smaller, make the clothing smaller. Jezebel notes that one customer says she bought an item in J. Crew years ago in a size 6. Now she’s 20 pounds heavier and wears a 2. That’s some funny math.
But there’s also the issue right now of body image and all of the sensitivities surrounding weight, health, and the female body in general. There’s something tone deaf about a fashion company introducing a size that’s sounds this small and outlandish. True, some people will be a little hurt if they went into the store yesterday and wore a 4 and go in today and wear a 6. But it’s realistic. Most people know when the sizing at a shop has gone wonky just to make them happy.
A 000 is the equivalent of a XXXS, a size that even J. Crew acknowledges is so small that few people would fit it. For fashion labels, it raises the point that your sizing chart is now part of your marketing and messaging effort. You don’t want to appear insensitive to the concerns of your customer or the larger issues of health and wellness that the fashion industry touches on.