Fashion’s Narnia: The £32k of unworn clothing lost in Britain’s wardrobes

Brits are hoarding tens of thousands of pounds worth of clothes that they’ve never worn in their wardrobes, as revealed by the latest data from True Fit.

Research from over 2,000 consumers polled as part of True Fit’s Fashion Derailed report showed that over a lifetime Brits will amass £32,951 worth of unworn clothing in their wardrobes – equivalent to the average cost of a wedding or university fees for a three-year undergraduate degree.

The average British woman will stash £22,140 worth of unworn clothing in their wardrobes – the equivalent to a house deposit for a first-time buyer – while men accumulate on average £10,811 of garments they will never wear – comparable to the fees for a child under two to attend day nursery full time for a year.

Fit is everything

With British women forecast to spend £29.4billion on clothing this year alone, nearly half of UK female shoppers (45%) admit to having bought something online that they have never worn or have only worn once (44%) because of difficulties choosing items in the right style, fit, and size for their unique personal characteristics and preferences.

And this fashion fit epidemic, True Fit’s data suggests, extends beyond women’s wardrobes.  With only 1 in 2 (44%) of the UK’s garments fitting them properly, the average Brit admits they only wear three quarters (74%) of the clothing in their wardrobes.  When it came to finding clothes they love, and choosing the right style, fit, and size, jeans proved the trickiest item to shop for online for both men (15%) and women (21%), followed by trousers (12%), boots (5%), dresses (4%) and heels (4%).

Confidence to buy can be lacking

And, such is the frustration with style and sizing guesswork that over three quarters of women (77%) now say they choose not to purchase clothing online because they are unsure of which styles suit them best and which size to buy.  Half (50%) even purposely avoid certain retailers because the style, fit, and sizing of their clothes is so unpredictable, causing shoppers to lose confidence in buying from them.

Lars Rabe, a business leader and fashion expert at True Fit, commented: “There is so much disparity in retailers’ sizing –  with consumers’ clothing fluctuating several dress sizes depending on where they shop, for example – it is leaving many shoppers confused and frustrated when shopping for fashion online.”

Impact on returns costs

“And it’s not just bad for consumer confidence, it’s also bad for the retailers themselves.  Not only might they lose out on sales and erode customer loyalty, but they may also end up bearing the cost of fulfilling redundant items and orders – where shoppers order several items of the same product due to size uncertainty – as well as the cost of returns due to any combination of ordering items aren’t right for a shopper’s personal taste, body, or size,” he added.

Romney Evens, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at True Fit, said: “The fact that half of the female consumers we polled avoid certain retailers due to inconsistencies in style, fit, and sizing is a clear indication of the confidence gap consumers face when shopping for fashion online.  If retailers make recommendations for customers based on what they believe their average consumer would prefer, they are making that customer conform to an imaginary and inaccurate concept.”

True Fit is a global data platform for the fashion industry that decodes personal style, fit, and size for millions of consumers to help them discover clothes and shoes they’ll love and keep.



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