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Yes, It's More than a Shirt

A Quick Guide to More Inclusive Swag

Problem: Assigning binary gender information to a piece of clothing makes it challenging for our team members to find the best fit for themselves. This gendering also scopes the distribution of sizing for items. When members have a hard time finding their size in one gender, they are directed to “the other” gender, which can cause personal distress and feelings of being ‘othered’.

Solution: There is a straight-forward solution. Stop distributing items as “men’s” and “women’s” items.

1/ Describe the item of clothing by cut: “Straight Cut”, “Fitted Cut”, “Tapered Cut” with diagrams showing the difference between the items themselves, not with body styles or images underneath that might suggest gender. Geometric shapes are useful here.


Geometric shapes help people find shirts that are cut to their proportions

2/ Ask all team members who want team swag to submit their preferred clothing size via anonymous survey with more defined information. Use ranges of sizing or measurements, anonymizing the information and retaining the aggregate sizing information.

3/ All sizes matter. If we order for one, we order for all. Only work with companies who will provide small-number batches for certain sizes to ensure that all team members are able to have a cut + size that works for them. (This might mean ordering <5 items in one particular size. The cost of these items is less than the cost of exclusion for one team member.)

Note: I know it’s harder to do this with large third-party events. However, for first-party + team events, it should be within a team’s power + budget to make sure we’re buying + sizing appropriately. The cost of exclusion is higher than the cost of a single item of clothing.

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