Even shoes need “vanity sizing” as feet get fatter when we pile on the pounds
Retailers have admitted they are increasing shoe sizes to accommodate fatter feet
We already know about so-called ‘vanity sizing’ when it comes to clothes. But it seems they’re not the only things being quietly expanded – shoes are too.
Some retailers have discreetly increased the width of their footwear to serve an increasingly overweight population, while others are offering wider fittings.
French Sole, an upmarket shoe shop favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge, admitted it ‘readjusted’ at least one of its styles every six months.
Retailers can increase the length andwidth of their footwear relatively unchecked, because there are no internationally set guidelines.
Asurvey of seven major shoe retailers by the Daily Mail found that the width of a women’s size six shoe can vary by as much as half a centimetre. While it appears slight, experts said it could mean the difference between ‘comfort and agony’ with high-heeled shoes. French Sole founder Jane Winkworth, who specialises in ballet pumps, said: ‘We have certainly had to broaden our shoes – we have to do it virtually every time we design a new shoe.
‘Itis often just a fraction larger, but we need to do it to accommodate larger feet now. Our shoes are without a doubt bigger than they were when we started 24 years ago.
‘Ithas to be very gradual of course, and we do not increase the sizes overnight. But I will often go to my shoemakers in Spain or France and tell them our customers are finding these ones a bit tight on what we call their “bunion joints”.’ She added: ‘Every six months to a year we are readjusting one style or another and it is always up, up, up, never down.’
Mrs Winkworth insisted it was not ‘vanity sizing’ because the length and overall shape had not been altered.
Debenhams has recently launched a range of EEE-fit footwear, which are three fit sizes wider than average shoes and have up to 15mm more room at the ball joint.
A spokesman for Debenhams said: ‘Demand for wider fit shoes has increased significantly in recent years.’
TamFry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘It is inevitable that as thenation becomes more overweight, their feet will become wider. It is another consequence of the obesity problem in Britain.
‘Thereis a problem with vanity sizing in the clothing industry and it is conceivable that this is also happening with shoes. Women who have put on weight would perhaps be reluctant to admit they are wearing bigger shoes.’