Spain will, for the first time, be standardizing its clothing for women. Seems until now, it was something
of a crapshoot when shopping for a blouse in, say, Barcelona — where as BBC News points out today, a European size 40 in one shop (roughly a size 10 in the United States) could mean something completely different
(Note, as many readers have pointed out, that converting from one size system to another is an inexact science, and often depends on the yardstick of the beholder.)
Even in the same store, women in Spain were typically forced to eyeball items labeled with wildly different
sizes, take a handful of them to the dressing room, and hope for the best, rendering the “sizes” all but meaningless.
No more. From BBC News:
But by 2008 those days could be over. Spain’s biggest fashion retailers have bowed to government pressure
to standardize their sizes and reflect the real size of Spain’s growing population.
Under new regulations, a size 40 garment in one store will need to be at least roughly comparable to a size
40 in another shop.
The size standardization is accompanied by a push to scrap the nation’s rail-thin window mannequins in exchange for models that are at least a European size 38, ideally 40 — which roughly corresponds to
a size 8-10 (depending on the measure you use) in the United States.
(Note Heather’s insightful comment below for a word on “vanity sizing” and the downward migration of size labels in the U.S.)
The Age newspaper in Australia reports that retailers also agreed to begin regularly stocking sizes at the
upper end of the spectrum — something most shops don’t currently do, apparently.
The news from Spain — which also took the aggressive step last year of banning what are known as “size-zero”
models from fashion shows in Madrid last year — comes the same week that four major fashion powerhouses in the United
States, France, Italy and Britain agreed to address growing concern over the industry’s use of “ultra-thin”
Or at least to talk about addressing it.
The four industry groups — France’s Federation de la Couture, La Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the British Fashion Council — met for talks on the topic in Paris on Wednesday.
Beyond agreeing that “all actors concerned must get involved in the matter of information,” whatever
that statement from the French contingent means, however, it was unclear what the fashion industry groups were prepared to
do. And it certainly seems that super-super-thin bodies are not easy for the industry to give up.
The head of the French fashion federation, Didier Grumbach, said earlier this week Paris would not take extra
measures to ban ultra-skinny models from catwalks because its rules on their health were already strict.
“We must be attentive and inform young women but not regulate even more,” Grumbach said on the
sidelines of an haute couture show in Paris Monday.
France’s health minister has said he wants a working group to assess the impact that images of skinny
models have on young women.
The fashion world has been debating the issue of ultra-thin models, with many designers and models shrugging
off concern that they encourage eating disorders in girls and young women.
New guidelines were developed earlier this month in advance of New York’s big shows this fall. They included some scheduling shifts to help models get
more sleep, urging designers to identify models with eating disorders, and more nutritious backstage catering.
But it all fell short of body-mass requirements for models that are starting to take root in places like Madrid.
Late last year, the regional government of Milan — which essentially controls the major fashion shows in Italy —
established body-mass requirements that force models to hew to World Health Organization standards for their heights.
And of course, much of the problem was brought into stark relief last year with the death of a 21-year-old
Brazilan model Ana Carolina Reston, who died of apparent anorexia. Ms. Reston, 5-ft. 8-inches, weighed just 88 lbs. when she
died, according to reports.