Fashion’s Fit Problem: Unveiling the Environmental Consequence

Fashion’s fit problem poses significant challenges for the fashion industry, leading to environmental consequences and increased returns. In this post, we explore the detrimental effects of fashion’s fit problem on the environment and discuss potential solutions. 


The Problem with Fashion’s Size Chart

Fashion’s fit problem is as old as e-commerce itself, returns stemming from poor fit are therefore a major pain point for retailers. According to the National Retail Federation, apparel is the second most returned product category, citing wrong fit and colour as the top reasons. With 64% of consumers returning an item because it does not fit correctly.  Reinforcing the need for more accurate measurement systems and virtual try-on solutions across the industry. 

Avatar in front of sand colour walk wearing a white dress.


Clothing returns cost the industry billions of dollars each year, as well as causing environmental harm. Unsold inventory leads to unnecessary waste and production that is harmful to the environment. Returns accounted for 17% of e-commerce sales in 2021 in the US, according to the National Retail Federation, up from 11% in 2020. Moreover, in 2022 23 million returned garments were sent to landfills or incinerated in the UK alone 

The industry must take a more sustainable approach towards fashion production. However, the first step towards this should be size standardisation, which has been ignored for too long. 

With each brand following its own size chart, consumers find it challenging to determine their correct size and fit, which has lead to the fashion’s fit problem we see today. This leads to an increase in returns, which is both costly for brands and bad for the environment. Sustainable fashion should not only be about ethical production but also about creating clothes that consumers can use for a long time, reducing their need to return items due to poor fit.

Diagram showing the cost of returns

The Rise of Returns and Environmental Impact of Fashions Fit Problem


To address the issue of inconsistent sizing, fashion brands need to focus on size standardisation and provide clear information on their sizing charts. This will help consumers make informed decisions about their purchases and reduce the likelihood of returns. Brands can also consider offering virtual fittings or sizing recommendations based on past purchases.

Brands can use innovative technology and sustainable materials to create clothing items that are more adjustable or flexible in size, reducing the need for consumers to guess their size. Consumer education and empowerment are also crucial in tackling the fit problem. As a result, fashion brands are also contributing to the environmental impact caused by returns. In fact, in 2022, the returns process produced 750,000 tonnes of Co2 emissions in the UK alone.

However, with size standardisation and technological advancements, brands can minimise the number of returns and reduce the carbon footprint of the industry. Therefore, consumers can also play a role by educating themselves about their body type and size and advocating for size standardisation across brands. 


How Brands Can Address Fashion’s Fit Problem

Fashion brands have been struggling with inconsistent sizing for a long time, leading to increased returns and a negative environmental impact. To tackle this issue, brands can leverage the power of 3D technology. Specifically, virtual try-on to offer accurate and realistic fittings to customers.

Virtual try-on technology takes the guesswork out of finding the right size. Offering an immersive experience that allows customers to see how clothing fits on their bodies. By integrating this technology into their online stores, fashion brands can offer a better shopping experience to their customers and drive online sales. In fact, VTO is expected to increase sales by 4-10%. 

Moreover, VTO can also foster loyalty and drive retention, as it provides customers with memorable experiences. By building confidence through realistic, accurate results for every customer, fashion brands can set themselves apart from competitors and gain customer loyalty.

Women walking in street the street. Shot from above wearing a white jacket and white hat. Wearing fashion clothing.

The Future of Sustainable Fashion: Addressing the Fit Issue

As fashion’s fit problem continues to cause headaches for both consumers and brands, it’s clear that reform is needed. 

One solution that is gaining popularity is VTO, which uses 3D rendering and AI-led pose recognition to enable digital garments to be rendered on customers’ bodies. This technology can create proper virtual changing rooms across platforms and touch points, providing a user-centric experience for customers.

Virtual try-on also has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of fashion. By allowing customers to see how a garment will fit before they buy it, VTO can reduce the need for bulk-buying and returns. Therefore helping to reduce the carbon footprint of the fashion industry and create a more sustainable future.



While virtual try-on is not a silver bullet for fashion fit problems. Size standardisation is still an issue that needs to be addressed, and there will always be some level of discrepancy between digital rendering and physical fit. 

However, as technology continues to improve, it is clear that virtual try-on has the potential to be a game-changer for the fashion industry. By combining sustainability, cost-saving, and user-centric experiences, VTO can help to address fashion’s fit problem and create a more sustainable future for all. 

Join us at TDM as we go on this journey. To learn more about our work contact us at info@threedeemee.com or connect with us on our social media. 

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