Sizes; what do we make, what sells, and models

Sizes; what do we make, what sells, and models

Shopify has endless ways to analyse data, none of which are even slightly useful for people selling over 100 bra sizes.

This means I have to just go and do it by hand. About once a year my lingerie-company-bffs over at Playful yell at me to go do it :)

I take the top few hundred best sellers and just look through those - because what sells is very skewed, where a few things sell a lot and then a lot of things we might only sell one or two. This is pretty common (check out the Pareto principle), and especially to be expected on the luxury brands (Emma Harris, Katherine Hamilton, the Rose Noir latex range) where prices are out of most peoples reach. Including mine :)

 I tend to assume the best-sellers will indicate what the rest of the data looks like, and in any event I am more interested in them because products that sell the most volume make the most money. 

So! I run through these products and use the incredibly old fashioned method of a bit of paper and totting things up using five-bar-gates. It's honestly the most low tech thing.

Then I put that data into a chart, and then I turn the numbers into a colour. The darker the colour, the more it sells. 

Our main selling brands are Kiss Me Deadly own brand, Bettie Page by Playful Promises, and Playful Promises main brand. We use the same size system for bras, but different systems for dress sizes, so I separate the data.


Bra sizes and Playful brand sales by sizes chart; the darker the colour, the more it sold



The bra sizes above are the combined figures from PP brands and KMD and as you can see they're pretty patchy. I excluded Katherine Hamilton as they use the +0 system instead so it gets confusing. I suspect it would smooth out a bit if I went through and filled in the data - it's even patchier than last year, probably because bra sized items have been much lower in sales over the pandemic?
But you can see that basically B-F, 32-38 is where it's at for us.

Questions you may have;

'But that's a chicken and egg situation? You concentrate on those sizes already so of course they are what sells'
This is definitely a factor - we stock more styles in this size range. But we do have other options, and this year we also release the PPxKMD so if you like KMD aesthetics and were waiting for more sizes, I'd have expected that to show up in the figures, and it hasn't.
Plus, if folks are used to a certain range from KMD so aren't looking for the other sizes . . . it's going to cost a LOT in marketing to change that. Would it make sense to spend the money on new stock and new marketing or would it be more cost-effective to just do different things in the core size range for us?

'Why is 36DD so much better-selling than the rest?'
I honestly have no idea. Last year it was 34DD, which is notionally the 'average' in the UK (presumably the mode based on what main stores are prepared to discuss, since you can't make an arithmetic mean for bra sizes and there's no statutory info on this)
It might be a random fluctuation or an artefact of wired bra sales having been low this year. The less you sell of things the more you get quirky data.


Playful brands are dress sized for most other items (knickers, girdles, suspender belts etc) and run from a UK 6 in some styles through to a 26 in others.
As you can see, neither 6 or 26 sell enough for me to even have had to put it on the chart. And the drop off between the best-selling size - 12 - and the plus sizes is pretty steep.


Kiss Me Deadly sales by size chart; the darker the colour, the more it sold

This is mirrored in our own brand. KMD sizes differently, but our 2XL is also around an 18. We introduced it on most styles last year and it's selling  . . . ok, but not great - again, there's a huge drop off between the mid-range sizes and the 2XL.

You might be thinking "but half of the UK population wear a 16 or over, so why aren't don't sales figures reflect that"?

I think it's for two reasons.

Firstly, we're pretty sure that the "average" size 16 is the arithmetic mean. What type of average you use matters - for example, this sort of average for fingers and thumbs?  It's not 5.

But would you make gloves that didn't have 5 finger/thumb bits? No. Because when you're making a product, what's more common (the modal average) is far more likely to sell than what's the arithmetic average.

There's no public info on bust-waist-hip data in the UK; large retailers collect it but they tend to keep it to themselves or make it into dubious press releases. But based on a few things we do know, like, there's a distinct lower limit on the size you can be but a long tail on the upper end, it seems likely that the most common size people wear is smaller than the technical average.

Terrible graph I hand drew a million years ago to explain this.
If we're right about this, then we could have a large percentage of folks wearing 10-12-14 range, and then the 50% who wear a 16 and over would be split over more like 8 sizes, so it would add up, but with smaller sales numbers in each category.

Secondly, even if the range of what sizes people wore in the UK was completely symmetrically distributed . . . . the people we sell to is not 'all women in the UK'.

About half of our customers are overseas, for starters. But even those in the UK are, as compared to the population as a whole, younger and with more disposable income. Both of those things are associated with smaller sizes, or at least a smaller waist size (some research and statutory places do collect waist sizes, so you can get info about those)

So at the end of all that . . . no changes in what sizes I make this year!  But I will see if we can do a set of photos showing the 2XL sizes better and see what difference that makes to sales.

In the meantime we just shot existing styles on Jess and Emmie, neither of whom are standard  catwalk or agency model size, and promptly had people insisting both that we must and must not show things on women who wear a size 16 or above.

I might go into more detail about why both sides were talking bobbins at some other point, but at the moment, our samples are in an M, people you see in the garments vary from Morgana, who would be wearing an S or smaller, through to me, usually wearing a 2XL.

You'll find more variety on our insta, because we get pictures there that we don't have permission to use on the product pages. Playful Promises have plus ranges with a greater choice in sizes, so their insta has even more variety :)