An open letter to the sportswear industry
My name is Andrew Shanahan, I founded MAN v FAT in 2014. Since then it has become one of the largest platforms in the world supporting just under a million overweight and obese men every year, all of whom share the same goal – they want to lose weight and get healthier. As part of MAN v FAT I started our MAN v FAT Football leagues in 2016 and our players have now gone on to lose nearly 40 tons in a little over a year. We have been officially endorsed by the FA and we work with football clubs across the UK and now Australia to support men to get back into football, lose weight and have fun.
As part of this journey I have seen – both firsthand, as someone who has struggled with my own weight – and through the experiences of the players on our leagues, just how difficult it is to find sportswear for men beyond the magic 2XL mark. It’s been an infuriating process for me trying to source kits for our players and getting thwarted at every turn – in fact, we are now looking at sourcing our own kits from overseas. What I find so galling about this is what it tells these men about their place in sport – simply that no one makes gear to fit them, because they don’t fit in sport. I would deeply love to change this with your support.
I feel that my options are first and foremost to simply raise this as an issue. I’m sending this email to you and sharing it as a post on MAN v FAT with people and companies who work across the sportswear industry. I’m not naming names, or attempting to put anyone on the spot. I would simply like to raise this as an issue with you and offer MAN v FAT as a resource to suggest some changes and reach a new situation where sportsmen and women of all sizes can be welcomed and equipped.
Frankly, I wasn’t sure if this was just me who felt this way so I raised the question on our Facebook page and the post has now been shared 150 times and been seen by over 20k people. Read the comments and you will see a recurring theme, namely that this is a serious barrier to participation in sports. You will also see that many commenters accept that they may need to pay a little more for their gear but they’re happy with that – they just want to be able to buy sportswear in sizes up to 7XL.
For the life of me I can’t understand why the industry won’t support them. If it’s a simple question of economics then as I state in the post:
“What’s so absurd is that it’s not like we’re not prepared to pay! We’re the sweet spot market! If a manufacturer can make something in XL, they can make it in 7XL. You want to see the value of the fat pound, give us gear that allows us enjoyably sweat in a 7XL and you know what happens? We’ll sweat and we’ll lose weight and we’ll buy the 6XL. Then the 5XL. Then the 4XL. Then the 3XL. Then the 2XL. Then the XL. Then the L. Then the M.”
The other thing to factor in is that there are 20.4 million overweight and obese men in the UK alone. Unfortunately, that’s a market that is growing. I believe that we need to do everything we can to support these men and I would love for you to support them too. I would welcome your response and with your permission will share your views with our readers and hopefully, together, we can erase this as an issue and truly open up the amazing possibilities of sport for every body.