Are Chains And Customers Ready For Jockey's New Bra Sizes?

Jockey wants to replace familiar bra sizes like 34B and 36C with 55 sizes with identifiers like 1-30 and 9-42, according to the New York Times. But getting the rest of the industry to buy into the new sizing system will be challenging on several fronts.

Of course there's the huge problem of unfamiliarity—to customers, the new sizing scheme is likely to feel like the metric system for bras. Then there's the measurement problem: Jockey's new system, which is intended for e-commerce bra sales, requires customers to buy a sizing kit for $19.95 (they also get a $20 coupon for actually buying a $60 bra). The kit contains 10 plastic cups in varying shapes, and customers can try different cups to see which one fits best. That and a rib-cage measurement are used to determine the new size.

That might well specify a better-fitting bra—especially for bras bought over the Internet—but the nonrefundable price may be a barrier. And it also doesn't help that Jockey has patented its system, so it would actually cost its larger competitors to climb on the new-size bandwagon.

In addition, bra-fitting has been a major in-store service for apparel chains in recent years. In principle, once a customer has been professionally fitted for bras under the old system, she should have properly fitting bras, at least from certain manufacturers. Unless Jockey offers to give away the system to chains—and look the other way when those retailers come up with cross-reference charts between the old and new systems—why would the chains adopt Jockey's idea, no matter how good it seems?

But there may be yet a more fundamental difficulty with more accurate bra sizing—one that no amount of industry cooperation can easily overcome. About 80 percent of women currently wear a wrong-size bra, according to bra manufacturer Wacoal, in part because of a stigma about wearing larger cup sizes. If customers perceive Jockey's fitting cups that have higher numbers to be the equivalent of larger cup sizes, they're likely to decide than a fitting cup with a smaller number must be better. Then the bra still won't fit, and customers are likely to blame Jockey's new system.

For more:

- See this New York Times story

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