I think I figured out "weird" asian sizing

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by Guppy, Sep 26, 2020.

  1. Guppy

    Guppy My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Cleveland, OH
    I can't claim I've tried them all, but I've now sampled a number of asian clothing brands that use the "weird" sizing system that goes from XS to 3XL or even as much as 6XL. Some Japanese, some Chinese. I'm talking about tops here, and this could apply to shirts as well as jackets. I'm only posting to Outerwear forum because I mainly post in Outerwear, but much of this experience comes from 'vintage workwear' brands like Bronson, Bob Dong, Red Tornado, Sauce Zhan, Non Stock, etc.

    Here's what I've learned:

    1) Asian sizing is "slim" compared to "relaxed fit" western sizing. Westerners tend to have somewhat larger frames, but we also tend to be more prone to obesity.

    2) When it comes to the multi-XL sizing that seems like just a L or XL in western sizing, it's really because asian sizing uses centimeters rather than inches, and goes up 2 cm per size in the chest. This is about equivalent to 1", which in western sizing would mean a half-size. Which, if you understand this, is really great for those of us who frequently find ourselves "between sizes" in western off-the-rack SMLXL sizing.

    I'm a 42 Regular most of the time, and depending on pattern and cut can wear anything from a 40 or sometimes even a 38 up to a 44 or 46 in numeric sizing. But when it comes to SMLXL sizing, I'm most often right about exactly a Large, and once in a great while I'll fit an XL or a M. Occasionally I'll be right between L and XL, which can be no big deal if it's a t-shirt, but if it's a leather jacket, it can really suck when both sizes just don't work for me. But with asian sizing, their half-size jumps between L and XL and XXL means that I can get a better fit, provided I know the actual measurements of the garment in question. And most asian market sellers list this information in much greater detail and with better precision than do most western e-commerce sites. I always double- and triple-check the measurements given, but most of the time what would work for me and be considered a Large in western SMLXL sizing will be a XXL in asian sizing, but once in a while may be a just a single-XL, or more rarely XXXL.

    One other thing that messed with my head before I got over it was the ubiquitous disclaimer to allow for 1-2cm of "error" in measuring. This isn't because they don't know how to measure, or don't know how to cut, or because there's wide variance in examples of a given tagged size. It's simply because your measurements may not agree entirely with their measurements, and this is more likely than not because you're not doing it exactly the same way they're doing it. And very likely, they know what they're doing, and you're not doing it the way they do it. So your measurement may not agree exactly with theirs, but if you knew their way of doing it, you'd get the same measurement. The 1-2cm of error is yours, in all likelihood, but they're not insulting you by pointing it out, they just want you to understand that their measurements can be off from what you measure. But you can rely on the measurement to be pretty much accurate to their numbers.

    The result of this is that I now really like "weird" asian sizing, because it allows me to dial in and nail the fit a lot more precisely, and don't find it weird at all. In fact, I wish we did this in the west. And, considering how so much of our clothing is manufactured over there to begin with nowadays, I really have to wonder why it isn't -- my guess is a combination of tradition and not wanting to confuse western shoppers with a change that suddenly results in everyone buying two sizes too small because they buy the tagged size they've always bought. And partly too, merchants want to deal with fewer sizes because it's simpler and therefore less expensive.

    TL;DR: Don't be scared of asian sizing; just know your measurements and trust what the merchant says, even though they all disclaim that measurements must allow for 1-2cm of error.

    One last bit, the above may not necessarily apply to raw denim, where shrinkage is more of a factor and fit is likely more critical to comfort and getting the right look. If you are buying some selvedge jeans you'll want to read up carefully on the sizing information and understand how to get the right fit.

    Oh, and finally, it can be hit or miss, depending on who you're dealing with, but I've found that merchants on aliexpress are pretty helpful when it comes to answering questions. There may sometimes be a language barrier, and some may not have a lot of interest in talking with customers, but I've had a few who are very friendly and especially knowledgeable about their product, especially merchants who seemed to have a direct relationship with a factory, rather than being a mere retail stockist. Some of them are especially interested to learn what my tastes are and hope that I can speak for my hemisphere and help them improve their product line to appeal to westerners. It's refreshing to deal with friendly experts rather than min-wage sales drones who don't care and just want to move you on quickly or score the biggest commission they can, not caring if you ever come back or not.

    Finally, when it comes to buying, you'll find better prices on aliexpress than you will on ebay, and better still on taobao. Ordering through taobao is a pain though, and dealing with a proxy and re-shipping can be more trouble than it's worth, but sometimes you can save half as much again on what you'd pay for an item on taobao compared to what you'd pay for the exact same item on ebay. I found a pair of Bob Dong pants from a merchant on Taobao for about $50 USD less than I could find on ebay, and even with proxy buyer service fees and the cost of re-shipping, still came out way ahead. I still don't know that I recommend it, as even the proxy service websites are hard to navigate and understand, and a lot of them use machine translation which can be off and difficult to make sense of. Still, if you can figure it out, you can definitely save money a lot of the time.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
    Fanch, Benny Holiday, Feraud and 7 others like this.
  2. El Marro

    El Marro Call Me a Cab

    That’s good info, thanks Guppy!
    Guppy likes this.
  3. broll22

    broll22 New in Town

    Central Ohio
    Great info! Thanks for sharing!
  4. Mrfrown

    Mrfrown A-List Customer

    Wow a lot here. Thanks for sharing.

    When you say trust what the merchant says, do you mean like asking if an item will fit given your measurements? Or just generally their descriptions tend to be accurate in a self-consistent way?
  5. Guppy

    Guppy My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Cleveland, OH
    I meant to trust that they know how to measure their product accurately.

    Many will give you advice if you ask them to help you figure out what size you should order, as well.
    Mrfrown likes this.
  6. Guppy

    Guppy My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Cleveland, OH
    A couple of other things:

    • When I'm not blocking ads, I get a ton of ads browsing facebook for clothing. It's almost always stuff you can find on aliexpress with a reverse image search for the merchant's photo, and usually for about 1/10th of what they're selling it for on the facebook ad. Some people are running a pretty good racket advertising "going out of business" sales for cheap clothes. Toward the end of summer it was harem pants and what looked like beach wear, marked "down" 75-80% from like $200 down to $40, but then when you find it on aliexpress it's like $14-20. A lot of it is cheaply made and looks good in photos, but not in person. I basically block every facebook clothing ad now. But often these scammers are running multiple e-commerce stores and multiple ad campaigns, and I'll see the exact same items from 10+ different stores I never heard of, all "going out of business". Avoid. Or if you must, find it for cheaper on ali and don't pay the markup of the fake "going out of business sale".
    • Searching on taobao and aliexpress is terrible. I don't know if it's because of the english-to-japanese/chinese translation or what, but the results hardly match what I searched for, or there are a lot of way-off items in the results, with the occasional thing that looks close to what I searched for. But ali and taobao both are really good at suggesting similar items, and once you get close to something you like, you can get sucked down a rabbit hole checking out a lot of cool looking similar stuff.
    • If you avoid the really cheap stuff, and stick with items from known quality brands, you can get some good deals.
    • There's a lot of knockoff leather items that use photos stolen from the likes of RRL, Thedi, famous actors, etc. and are pretty beneath contempt. I don't mind if they copy a pattern of a classic jacket from history, everyone does that, but take your own photos and represent your product accurately.
    • But the good brands that produce well made clothing that I've found so far would include the ones I mentioned above in the beginning of the original post.
  7. jonesy86

    jonesy86 My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Thanks @Guppy, very useful information. I have bought 3 jackets on AliExpress, the first 2 were an Bronson A-1, and a Curphey Cossack both XXL and too small for me. The XXXXL Freewheelers Sunset knockoff I just got is big enough. I see Cedu jackets in Al’s Store that are Freewheelers knockoffs and some Thedis with Theodoros picture, and others that are clearly his style. I find that the P to P, shoulder, sleeve length, and back length make it better to find the right size.
  8. Will Zach

    Will Zach One Too Many

    Northeast USA
    I spent some time in Tokyo last year, and let me tell you - some Japanese males are SLENDER compared to Western males. I mean like children sizes in terms of chest and shoulders. It is more a slight bone structure than anything else. Sumo wrestlers excluded of course. :)
    JMax and Monitor like this.
  9. 58panheadfan

    58panheadfan Practically Family

    In the case of jeans or trouser sizes, it's helpfully to know in Japan the waist measurement is often done by circumference and not across the waist x 2. Some shops show how they measure but not all, so be careful with the waist measurements...
    jonesy86 likes this.
  10. Cyber Lip

    Cyber Lip Practically Family

    always message them and ask them to send you the measurements of the exact item they'll be sending you. The posted measurements can sometimes be the manufacturers specs and can vary slightly
    jonesy86 likes this.
  11. ProteinNerd

    ProteinNerd My Mail is Forwarded Here

    I’ve had nothing but very positive experiences with Aliexpress. From what I understand the seller doesn’t actually get the money from the sale until you have marked that you received the item and it’s as described and you are happy...makes for great customer service!

    Nice tips re the sizing @Guppy , the only issue I have is a lot of the time, items made for the Asian market are not only made for a smaller frame (which can be adjusted for by sizing up) but also a slightly shorter average height which you cant really adjust for unless they make a long version.
  12. phelan77

    phelan77 New in Town

    This is especially true of Japanese sellers on Yahoo Auction. Japanese tends to measure the width of a jacket at a height between the pit and waist instead of pit to pit. Took me some time to figure this out.

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