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Study: Denim Retailers Aren’t Serving the Average Size US Woman

Mall retailers may not do themselves—or their customers—any favors by stocking the wrong size jeans.

Despite the growing popularity of denim brands that offer inclusive sizing like Good American and Warp + Weft, traditional retail, it seems, is slow to adapt to new ideals of size and beauty. A new analysis of women’s denim reveals that most retailers don’t stock jeans that fit the average size of U.S. women.

After analyzing 750 pairs of women’s jeans at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, Quartz found that only 13 percent of women’s jeans in brick-and-mortar stores are available for women of average size or larger. Quartz specifically looked at jeans from non-department stores, like American Eagle Outfitters, Express, Madewell, Old Navy, The Gap and True Religion.

The median waist size for women in the U.S. 20 years and older is 37.3 inches, according to the publication’s findings. But the median waist size of jeans available at the Mall of America was 30 inches—just one inch smaller than the median of the largest sizes carried by the brands it examined.

While every women’s denim retailer offered sizes for customers with a waist smaller than the average (women with a 27-inch waist had options in their size at 50 brands in the mall), Quartz found that only half provide at least one option for women with a larger waist.

Most retailers, including Lucky Brand, Silver Jeans and Levi’s, redirected consumers with larger waist sizes to shop their online-only collections.

Quartz pointed out that the lack of inclusive denim sizing sends a signal to consumers “not to bother coming to the mall.”