Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shopping for kids clothing not as easy as you think

As the weather warms up and attention turns to summer wardrobes, it's not only mine that I need to refresh. It seems Miss S has a shortage of skirts and dresses. So I've done a little bit of shopping online for her, but I like to venture in store as well. And I've been left feeling disappointed and frustrated. It seems that despite more opportunities for brands to listen to customers, retailers are still doing exactly what they wish.

I recently paid a visit to my local Pumpkin Patch store. I'm a huge fan of their range and prices, but sometimes I'm left scratching my head at sizing. Today was a case in point. I picked out two dresses for Miss S, one labelled 12-18 months and one labelled 6-12 months, but they were the same length, width etc, ie. same size (and the one labelled 12-18 months was possibly even a little smaller than the 6-12 month one). I questioned the retail assistant and she told me it was because they were different makes. But it's the same brand. Why was there such a difference in size?

Now seriously, it's hard enough shopping as a woman with so many different makes and sizes. I'm usually an 8 or a 10, but 99 per cent of the time, I have to take both into the change room. Sometimes the 8 fits perfectly and other times, I have absolutely no hope of squeezing into a size 8. This is a situation I have accepted, I don't like it, and it's incredibly frustrating, but I've accepted it. And it adds a whole new element of fun confusion to online shopping.

But now, it seems I'm expected to adopt the same principle when buying clothes for my 18 month old daughter (not because of her size but because there is an anomaly in the sizing on offer). It must make it incredibly difficult for grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends to buy gifts for children. I know before I had a child, I relied entirely on the age advice on sizing to pick out clothing.

I also like to shop online for Miss S, Pumpkin Patch has really good sales and a much bigger selection online than in store. But selecting sizing online won't be easy relying on the above logic. It can be really hard to determine online that one dress is a different make and therefore a different size.

I expressed these concerns to the sales assistants, but unfortunately, they could not or did not want to understand my concern and frustration. And just shrugged me off.

A family member had a similar experience with Pumpkin Patch. She purchased a pair of jeans for her son for a Brisbane winter (the size was 3-6 months). By the age of 11 months they were still slightly too big for him (he's an average sized bub) and winter was long gone. Summer was approaching and wearing a pair of jeans in 30 plus degree heat wasn't really an option. She complained to the store and they offered a refund, but I wonder if anyone is reviewing the sizes on offer and whether they are relevant and useful. For some pieces of clothing, you can hold onto them and bub will eventually grow into it, but for other seasonal items, it's just a waste of money.

My hope is that brands listen to their customers and their feedback, both positive and negative. I'm definitely one for giving kudos to a brand when they get it right (and Pumpkin Patch gets it right most of the time with it's range, price, sales and online shopping and returns) but brands also need to listen to customers when they miss the mark. Australian women live with anomalies in sizing every day, do we really want to experience the same frustrations when shopping for our children?

Have you experienced this anomaly in children's sizing?

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