Then we picked the winners, determining the best in each category based on those ratings and reviews. Here, we’ve also considered factors such as item cost (does it seem reasonable to you for what you’re getting?) as well as reach and accessibility (whether it’s out there?) months ago, is it still available in a wide range of sizes? Can you ship it across the country? Will you be able to return it if needed?).
In the end, 75 winners (from 50 brands) emerged victorious this year. Some are classics (Adidas, Lululemon and Reebok, hello!) and others, like Alder Apparel and Definite Articles, are newer to the scene, which makes us all the more excited to include them.
Back to the topic of sizing: while our submission guidelines require that qualifying apparel be available in at least a 3X or 20 size, you’ll notice that a number of winning items, many of which are from large fame. marks – only go up to a size 2X. As the submissions came in, we were once again faced with a daunting reality that, as fitness and health editors, we already know well: the sportswear industry. sport has taken some steps to be more inclusive of people with larger bodies, but there’s still a long way to go. Many items that we knew, in good faith, met our quality standards – if not beyond – were also not available in 3X or 4X sizes. There’s also the fact that sizing is wildly inconsistent across brands – some of our testers who wear an XL in one top may need a 2X in another – and also found to be inconsistent at the over time.
Our goal is to direct you to the pieces that will do the best job, sometimes leaving us torn between recommending items that didn’t perform as well in testing and items that more people can wear. This is all part of a larger problem: many brands whose inclusion of size is at the forefront of their mission tend to be smaller or less well funded; in turn, they may not produce new collections every year or have eligible inventory (a number of former SELF Activewear Award winners including size were unable to submit this year for this reason). Ultimately, we’ve seen, once again, that many retailers don’t believe that fat people deserve beautiful, high-quality clothes, or that they can be fit, healthy, or athletic.