Fashion - Stores edit their offerings based on sizes they sell the most

June 26, 1997

Stores edit their offerings based on sizes they sell the most


Staff Writer

What size sells the fastest?

There's no easy answer to the question, says Liz Tahir, a retail consultant and president of Liz Tahir Consulting in New Orleans.

"It's such a big market, and there are so many size ranges offered," says Tahir, whose job includes helping retailers increase sales.


Most stores have learned to edit their offerings based on the sizes they sell most, Tahir says.

"It's a gold mine for stores to recognize the sizes of their customers," Tahir says. "They need to know their clientele."

The average American woman is 5 feet 4 1/2 inches tall, is 39 years old and wears a size 12 top and a size 14 bottom, says George Simonton, an associate professor who teaches women's apparel design at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

Simonton, a designer with his own business in Manhattan, specializes in women's suits and offers clothing in petite, misses and women's sizes.

The designer's goal is to make women look tall and slim, says Simonton, who has been in the fashion business for 33 years.

"Women are getting a little bigger," he says. "They may not be a size 6 or 8, but they want to look their best."

Nationwide, a garment in size 12 or 14 sells the fastest, Simonton says.

"They buy it, knowing that it may not be there when they go back and look again," he says.

Expensive clothes often are sized more generously because it's easier to take them in than to let them out, Simonton says.

Big-name designers cut clothing a little bigger to give customers a mental boost, he says.

"They want women to feel very good about their body," he says.

While some folks may fib a bit about what size they wear, they aren't likely to spend a lot on clothing that doesn't fit.

"Most people aren't going to squander their money; today they are most concerned about the value they'll get," Tahir says.

People today are wearing clothes with a more relaxed fit, says Frank Fearnow, president of Ingram's Men's Shop in Hagerstown.

Back in the '60s, '70s and '80s everyone wore clothing a little tighter, he says.

"Now I can think of several manufacturers that don't even offer size small," Fearnow says.

If you do find the perfect garment in the wrong size, don't give up.

Ask a sales associate, says Jeff Schwaninger, senior merchandising manager for women's clothing at JCPenney in Hagerstown.

JCPenney will check with its other stores to see if the garment is available, Schwaninger says. If the item is on sale, the lower price will be honored.

"I almost always can find it for them," he says.

The Herald-Mail Articles