EU & UK Flag

EU Shoe Size to UK Conversion – A Guide By Footwear Experts

A popular query our customers have for our fitting specialists is how to convert from EU to UK shoe sizes. We thought we’d write an explanation that will help you understand the size conversion conundrum which plagues shoe lovers all around the world.

Mens EU to UK Shoe Size Chart

EU UK US
39 5.5 6
40 6.5 7
41 7 7.5
42 8 8.5
43 9 9.5
44 9.5 10
45 10 11
46 11 11.5
47 12 12.5

 

Women’s EU to UK Shoe Size Chart

EU UK US
35 2 4
36 3 5
37 4 5.5
38 5 6.5
39 5.5 7
40 6.5 8
41 7 8.5
42 8 9.5
43 9 10

UK to EU Size Guide

 

 

 

 

RELATED TOPIC: Kids Shoe Size Conversion Chart

 

Background of EU Sizes

Thirty years ago, most of the shoes we sold in our stores were made in the UK and therefore followed the UK sizing. The lasts that the shoes were made on were designed specifically for the shape of feet in the UK. Globalisation has changed the world massively since then and that includes the shoe industry. Read our blog on how shoes are made if you’re curious to know more.

The rise of lower-cost manufacturing in Europe and the Far East has decimated the UK shoe manufacturing industry. At Begg Shoes we do still have brands that make some of their shoes in the UK; namely Hotter and Padders. High-quality European manufacturers such as Gabor, Ara and Legero still make many of their shoes in UK half sizes, and typically higher priced brands adopt this approach to offer a more personalised fit.

Contrary to common understanding, EU sizes do not translate directly to UK sizes. Typically they jump around 5/6 of a UK size, for every EU size on the scale. The conversion chart above illustrates why this is a problem: EU sizes simply do not match up to UK sizes and this can lead to many customers picking the wrong size.

Today, many of our top brands manufacture their shoes in European or continental sizes. We have written a series of guides on our biggest and best-loved EU sized names, answering common questions in this area. These include our Birkenstock fitting guide and an in-depth look at How Rieker Shoes Fit. Also, back by popular demand is our updated Fly London Fitting Guide, an important read before investing in their lovely boots.

EU to UK shoe size

But why is this an issue?

The problem with creating lasts for whole and half UK sizes is that it is expensive to do so. Mass production of shoes can be done at a lower cost if there are fewer sizes to be produced. With UK sizes, due to the size of the gap between them, it would be customary to produce both whole and half sizing to offer a comfortable fit.

Therefore, for any women’s shoe made in the UK size system, there would often be 14-17 different sizes required for each style. However, when producing women’s shoes in EU sizes, there may be just 7-9 sizes making up the full range.

For many brands, manufacturing in EU sizes represents a cost-effective solution. The big problem comes when European sized shoes are marketed in the UK and the USA, where customers expect to see familiar sizes printed on the box front.  Unfortunately, some brands will cut corners and oversimplify the size conversion (e.g. 1 UK size is equal to 1 EU size) and this can be very unhelpful.

 

do EU sizes translate exactly to a UK size?

This is a common misconception and the source of a lot of problems for online shoppers. Many major brands and retailers have reinforced the exact-match size translation over time – because it’s simpler to advertise products this way. Very few retailers advertise shoes in the Original Manufactured Size and instead provide you with their own translation, to keep things simple.

EU sizes are often converted to UK using the following methodology for Women:

36 = 3 38 = 5 40 = 7 42 = 9
37 = 4 39 = 6 41 = 8

Confusingly for Men’s sizes, some retailers follow this approach:

40 = 6 42 = 8 44 = 10 46 = 12
41 = 7 43 = 9 45 = 11 47 = 13

 

Kids sizing follows a similarly simplistic approach.  In truth, the conversions are misleading for customers and explain part of the reason (there are several others!) that your shoe size can vary drastically between brands. Most of our shoes, including major brands such as Rieker and Ecco, are made in EU sizes.

Every day in every one of our stores we have ladies asking for a UK size 8 shoe.  Very often they will have been wearing an EU size 41 for years, from their favourite brand, without knowing these were never really a size 8.  The good news is our staff can guide you on what is the right fit and explain why the conversion challenges exist.  The reason the shoes on our website are often sold in EU sizes is that we want our customers to know what their ACTUAL shoe size is – not be misled by simplistic translations.

Finding the Best Fit online

In conclusion, we recommend you use the charts above to convert sizes as a starting point. It is important to remember that size conversion is only part of the story though and there is no replacement for trying shoes on to check they will be a great fit for you. When shoes are made all over the world, often designed to suit local preferences, it is really common to see size conversion problems.

When shopping online, there’s always a risk that the size won’t work out for you so check out the returns instructions before you buy. Fantastic new brands emerge every year and ultimately it’s a risk worth taking to discover the best products on the market.

Feel free to contact us for advice on converting EU shoe sizes to UK sizes, by phone or email. If you can, come and visit one of our stores. Either way, our fitting specialists will help to answer your questions and help you navigate the pitfalls of size conversion.

Happy Shoe Shopping!

Donald Begg