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April 13, 2004 12:01 AM

Broken: The Gap's placement of jeans

Deborah Bancroft writes:

Jeans at The Gap are generally folded neatly in wooden shelf units, arranged by size, so that customers can easily find what they are looking for. However, time after time, I have had to ask for help to get the size 4 jeans down from a shelf two feet above my head. Why don't they put the jeans for people they know are shorter where we can reach them? The Gap has turned an efficient serve-yourself process into a time-intensive customer support issue. Bizarre arrangement! And so easy to fix.


i don't necessarily think this is broken ... i'm a size four but i stand at five foot ten inches tall. my friend is a size sixteen and she's about five foot three. waist size is not an indicator of height. the only way it'd be broken is if the petite jeans were on the top shelf ... but since jeans are usually ordered by waist size and not inseam, i think no matter what someone's not going to be able to reach.

Posted by: emily at April 13, 2004 12:58 AM

Wouldn't it make more sense that the sizes that are the most popular are placed where they are most easily reachable?

If 100 people come through the door and 90 of them are a size 9, and then the other 10 are size 4s, wouldn't it make more sense to have the size 9s the most accessible and then for the outlying cases (size 4s) expend more energy/resources by having them in a storage spot that is less accessible?

(granted, a simplified example, but it should serve the purpose)

Posted by: Eric at April 13, 2004 09:11 AM

I'd say the much larger issue is women's sizes in general. Most of my female friends hate the fact that they use numbers instead of things like waist and inseem. Sure, it masks true size, but the numbers the industry uses are going all over the place. I know a couple people who have magically gone down in sizes over the years even though they haven't changed much at all.

When you have to try on multiple pairs of jeans from different brands and stores and they all fit different even though they're all size 5, that's screwed up. (And no I'm not talking about different styles, which skew things more...)

Posted by: jake at April 13, 2004 09:54 AM

This is a problem on the opposite end, also. I am 6'4" tall, and always have to bend way down, sometimes going to my knees, to find my size. I seems that the stores are determined to organize their stock in an orderly manner, rather than a logical one.

Every store I've been to has the smallest items on top, and the largest on the bottom. If they were to simply reverse this, it would be solve a lot of problems, with no real lack of organization.

Posted by: Dan at April 13, 2004 04:07 PM

Men's clothing is, if anything, worse than women's when it comes to arrangements. Most stores have two layers of suits and sport coats--and nearly *all* of them put the small sizes on the top and the large (tall) sizes on the bottom. Seems it's "maximum inconvenience for the maximum number" in most of these cases.

Not long ago, I actually noticed a store that had reversed this--and I just *had* to buy something to reward their thoughtfulness!


Posted by: David at April 14, 2004 08:10 PM

This isn't really broken, in fact it's very useful !

For years now whenever I walk into a jeans shop and the over-enthusiastic sales staff pounce "Can I help you with anything?" I simply reply "Yes, you could tell me why the 28 inch waist jeans are on the very top shelf up there where I can't reach them, and why the 40 inch waist jeans that my 6'3" friend wears are on the shelf here at my waist height".

This usually causes them to blink once or twice and then (often without even an answer) to just walk away and leave me alone to shop in peace. Especially in the US, this has to be considered a result !

I take the point that some "large waisted" people are quite short, but I've yet to see anyone seriously over 6 foot with a 28 or 30 inch waist no matter how lanky they look.

Posted by: Tim Meadowcroft at April 28, 2004 04:24 AM

I agree with the point that what's *really* broken is women's sizing. Any system where someone can be a size ZERO is broken. What does that mean exactly (we'll not even go into the psychological aspect of a system that encourages women to disappear)?? I would love it if we could talk about waist size and inseam. It may be harder to fool ourselves, but it sure would make things easier.

Posted by: Kimberly at May 28, 2004 01:50 PM

I wish women's clothing were sold by waist size & inseam. It would give some consistency to sizing, which is woefully lacking in the current size-labeling system. How is it that I have one pair of jeans that are a size 4 and are loose enough in the waist that they slide down if worn without a belt, and another pair that are a size 11 and fit quite nicely?

Posted by: EmilyB at June 18, 2004 12:17 PM

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