So… we here at STR just ran into our first serious conundrum with our goal to be as inclusive as possible to the entire community.
A huge portion of attaining our goal was to keep the site as gender neutral/inclusive as possible. We are dedicated to using gender pronouns as responsibly as we can without losing the “comfortable chat among event attendees” we are striving to achieve.
This goal, however, has caused a bit of stress when we started searching the world for items to add to our shop.
At first, the grand plan was to not sort items into “men’s” and “women’s” in any way, instead we would split items up into types, get the widest size range possible on as many as we could, and let the consumer decide what was “men’s” and what was “women’s”.
But as we dug deeper into suppliers and items, we swiftly discovered three things –
- Finding suppliers that make traditionally men’s items in sizes small enough to fit biologically female bodies or suppliers that make traditionally women’s items big enough to fit biologically male bodies is SUPER hard! AND even when you can find them, these “outside the norm” sizes are often made in tiny quantities that sell out quickly before being restocked not quite quickly enough.
- Exactly how to reconcile not having “men’s” and “women’s” departments or markings, considering the astronomical amount of sizing differences between the two. Shoes are a nice, fairly stable size and a half different between men’s and women’s, but pants can be anywhere between 2 and 5 sizes different.
- Add on top of those issues the fact that there is a difference in sizes between US, UK, Asia, and EU (these are just the ones we have found so far, and we still are not actually sure that UK and EU sizes are actually different) even within the simple categories of men’s and women’s…
Well, let us tell you all, it really starts getting ridiculous when you are trying to ensure that customers know which size to buy AND be as welcoming and inclusive as possible.
But we believe we have found a solution, thanks to a little outside help from a supportive friend, and we would like to get some outside opinions if possible.
What was suggested was a coding system on the categories and products, with a key on each page that makes it quick and easy to identify what the sizing information is, but without feeding into the possible gender and identification issues that are inherent in the sizing we have no control over. For example –
A shirt is sized men’s and uses US sizes –
- Category Title – “M – Classic Tee”
- Item Title – “US – Pouring Rainbow”
While items in design categories such as our Custom Design and our soon to be added Flags/Colors categories that need to be sized would be:
- Category Title – “Original Pride”
- Item Title – “M/US – Classic Tee”
The options would be either M (men’s) or W (women’s), and one of the following – US (United States), UK (United Kingdom), AS (Asian), or EU (European). We did some research and found that every item we have run across so far that is marked “unisex” is actually sized exactly the same as the men’s, so we won’t be including unisex at all. It just seems to add even more confusion with the “as genderless as possible” system we are trying to create.
Now… we know this is all kind of new bordering on radically different. It will take some getting used to, and might even be annoying at first.
Does it seem as usable and respectful as we think it is?
We are kind of an echo chamber here at STR since the group extremely small and very like-minded at this point, and we have yet to have someone of the alternative genders join us, much less enough to give us a solid feeling of “this is a good and proper thing” all on our own.
So that is our question to you, the community. We would really appreciate your input and help. Thank you!