My spouse told me about a talk show she has seen on TV, whose subject was “the difficulty faced by women whose pants size is 46” (equivalent to 38 in the US). Apparently fashion stores sell women’s pants up to size 44, and stores who specialize in large sizes do not sell this size. The women that are in-between find themselves in a difficult position.

Several representatives of fashion chains provided few explanations:

1) Cost: larger pants require more fabric, which increase the pant’s cost. Pants are sold at the same price, regardless of size: pants of size 36 and pants of size 44 sell at the same price; in particular, thinner women subsidize the rest of the population (but this is irrelevant for this post). Pants of size 46 will require more fabric, but will sell at the regular price. The manufacturers therefore have no reason to make them.

There are (at least) two responses for this point: (a) one can charge more for size 46, and (b) one can have in general differential price for pants: the larger the pants, the higher the price. 200cl cup costs more than a 150cl cup. Why not the same price differentiation with pants?

2) Design: Apparently pants of size 42  are not identical to pants of size 36, after multiplying all dimensions by the correct ratio of 42/36. The designer has to make additional adaptations so that the pants will fit bodies of different sizes. Thus, if the manufacturer has to make pants of a new size, size 46, additional designing work should be invested.

This argument is not too strong either. First, the additional work adds to the production cost, which can affect the pants price. Second, similar adaptations have to be done for every model of pants and every size: 38, 40, 42. I am pretty sure that there are usual tricks that designers do to adapt pants of one size to another size. So it is not clear to me why one additional size makes the designer’s life so difficult.

3) Positioning: One (male)  representative of a fashion chain said that they position themselves as a store for young beautiful women. What will their customers think if they see a larger woman wearing the same cloths that they wear? Since we are talking about female customers, I asked my spouse whether she agrees with this argument. She said that contrary to what the representative said, she would love to see a larger woman wearing the same cloths that she wears. She will then be able to say “these pants look much better on me than on her”.

So why don’t we find pants of size 46 in stores?