- Shoes and Gear
Have you ever noticed that you fit best in one size for a certain shoe brand and a different size in another? It’s not just you — it’s totally a thing. And here’s why.
Are all shoes the same size? Nope, they’re not! You’re not crazy — your feet don’t suddenly shrink overnight. But they do swell up while breaking a sweat and, more importantly, the shoes you wear expand and contract, too.
Yes, the shoe size comparison between brands makes shoe shopping much more challenging. This is especially true when you’re shopping for athletic shoes. As a runner, or gym rat, or whatever form of exercise you favor, you know that the way your shoe fits makes a BIG difference. It can make or break your performance.
So, why does a size 10 in one brand feel like a size 9 in another? Keep reading our guide on different brand sizes to learn how you can avoid a micro-crisis next time you’re ordering shoes online.
No Standardization of Shoe Sizes between Brands
Brands develop their own sizing for the shoes they produce. Weird, right? The shoe size comparison between brands is likethe experience of shopping at your favorite retail store for pants. You can find that when you go elsewhere, you’re a totally different size.
Did you suddenly gain 10 pounds at the mall? No, nor did your feet grow a couple of inches mid-walk between stores. The true difference in size starts at the beginning of the manufacturing process in factories with a tool called a “shoe last.”
Shoe lasts are molded models of feet (sans toes). They come in various shapes and sizes, and they’re a big part of what makes each shoe manufacturer unique. In that sense, the difference in shoe size between brands is much like apparel companies. It would put footwear companies at a disadvantage to adhere to universal sizing.
You might be able to relate to the shoe size comparison between brands if you have a certain affinity to Levi’s jeans, for example, that hug your curves exactly right. Or you swear by the Hanes tees as best-in-class because they strike a balance between being neither too tight nor too loose.
Many athletes — and runners, in particular — treasure the shoe fit comparison between brands. This is because some makes tend to fit like a second skin while others are so uncomfortable, they make you want to stop right in your tracks.
Shoes Sizes May Not Even Be Standardized Within the Brand
Okay, then are all shoes the same size if the same company makes them? Not necessarily. You can’t always count on one length in size to feel the same as the first (or second, or third!) pair of shoes that got you hooked on a certain brand.
There are a few reasons for this. First, most brands use a few different shoe lasts designed with a distinct activity in mind. Leisure and streetwear sneakers don’t need the same level of fine-tuning as athletic footwear.
For example, basketball shoes need to support lateral movements while out on the court to prevent rolled ankles. While cleats should fit like a snug glove to keep heel slippage from getting in the way of your game. That helps explain why not all shoes fit the same within a brand’s lineup.
But, let’s say your favorite pair of running shoes are almost on their last leg after a few hundred miles of wear. You love how they feel and perform, so you order another pair and do a side-by-side shoe fit comparison. Only to find that whatever new shoe you just unboxed must be an imposter.
Why Shoe Sizes Are Inconsistent Across Brands
What gives?! Before you go crazy with frustration, wondering if all shoes are the same size (that would make too much sense), here’s some troubleshooting advice that might help you pin down the problem:
- Are you sure the new pair is the identical brand release? Sometimes you might see a link that looks familiar, toss it in your cart, and checkout before realizing you got the same model, but not the same edition.A lot can change within a year or two. Even if the brand stays true to the original length in size, revamped features could fool you into thinking they shrunk. External heel tab, printed overlays, protected toe boxes, and extra cushion are all likely culprits.
- Did you ever leave your shoes outside in the sun? Or perhaps toss them in the dryer a little too long? Heat can certainly cause the fabric in the upper to shrink and shrivel up, making the replacement shoe feel foreignly roomy.
- Do you remember having to go through a break-in period? It’s not always easy to find a pair of shoes that fit like a dream right out of the box. You usually need totake them for a few spins before you can get them to soften up. And each time you run, the material in the midsole cushioning unit molds more to your foot’s contour.
It took a good amount of body heat and plenty of pavement pounding to create that custom-like fit you’ve come to love and expect! At least give them a chance to warm up on you (pun intended) before you declare that the same shoe is not the same size.
So, we’ve solved the riddle on the different shoe size comparison between brands and got to the bottom of why a fresh pair feels so different on your feet. But there’s one more situation that can be pretty maddening.
Have you ever been in a store, torn between which color you think will compliment you best? So you try on both — same model, same year, same size — and they not only look different, but they feel different, too. You compare shoe sizes and swear one feels more or less comfortable and make your decision.
What’s the deal here? Well, it could be a case of psychology if your mind is gently convincing your body to side with its secret preference. But you can definitely run into inconsistent shoe sizing at stores! It comes down to manufacturers at different factories that are using a last that’s slightly off-size from another location.
Finding the Right Size Shoes
You might be wondering how on earth you’re supposed to find the right shoe given all this information, but fear not. For the most part, you’ll probably experience differences in shoe sizes from brand to brand rather than within a brand that you tend to shop.
Yet, it’s always helpful to try shoes on before buying them. Here are a few tips to help you determine if your shoes fit properly:
- Size Up: Believe it or not, you do, indeed, want to size about half a size up. Your feet expand when running. Be nice to them. You should have approximately a thumb’s width between the end of your longest toe and the front of the shoe.
- Watch Your Heel: Heel slippage is, without a doubt, terribly annoying! Make sure your heel isn’t falling out of your shoe.
- Make Sure the Shoe is Right For Your Specific Foot: It helps to understand your arch type. Your arch’s height and flexibility determine the amount of support you need. Learn more about your arch here.
- Know What Cushion Level Works for You:Different shoes have different cushion levels. Some people thrive with ample cushioning underfoot, while others prefer a more minimalist feel.
That’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? If you’re unsure what type of shoe works best for your specific activities of choice, you can visit your local Road Runner Sports store and get a free assessment (which includes our new 3D foot scan) and shoe fitting.
How to Prevent Annoying Heel Slippage in Running Shoes
Dial-in the Perfect Fit Using These Running Shoe Hacks
Not Too Tight, Not Too Loose: How Running Shoes Should Fit
How to Choose Running Shoes That Actually Fit
As it turns out, it's actually an industry-wide issue: Because each brand develops their own personal fit for each size of shoe, the odds of that fit being duplicated exactly by a competing brand are slim.
They are usually due to the following factors: Different methods of measuring the shoes, different manufacturing processes, or different allowances even when the same system is used. An indication in centimetres or inches can mean the length of the foot or the length of the shoe's inner cavity.
No Standardization of Shoe Sizes between Brands
Brands develop their own sizing for the shoes they produce. Weird, right? The shoe size comparison between brands is like the experience of shopping at your favorite retail store for pants. You can find that when you go elsewhere, you're a totally different size.
It is important to note that there is no universal shoe size standard. Shoe sizes may be different from manufacturer to manufacturer, so it's pretty convenient to know the length of your foot in centimetres and to check out the trademark's size chart before buying shoes.
|INTERNATIONAL SHOE SIZE GUIDE|
If the difference in your feet sizes is small, the best option will be to buy shoes that have adjustable elements such as buckles, Velcro, elastic, or clasps so you can easily customize the size of the shoe to match each foot. One shoe style that will become your best friend are adjustable sandals.
As seen below, when it comes to both brands' running shoes, Nike trainers are actually 0.2" bigger than adidas trainers, thus making them a full 44 in EU sizing. As a result, it seems as though Nike shoes, particularly running trainers, fit true to size, while you may need to go half a size larger in adidas sneakers.
Men's and women's shoes differ in more than just size. Men's and women's shoes are designed differently because our feet are different. In addition to foot shape, foot pronation is different in men and women. Women have wider hips than men, so the angle that the foot strikes the ground is different from that of men.
They do run about 1/2 size smaller so be sure to size up. I'm a true size 9 for Nike and Adidas and I took the recommended size 9.5 and they are perfect. I wear them to HIIT and High fitness for the most part and they are super comfy. Highly recommend!