EU to UK Size Conversion

EU Shoe Size to UK

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

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

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

Thirty years ago, most of the shoes we sold in our stores were UK made and therefore UK sized. 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 proliferation of lower cost manufacturing in the 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, as they believe it is essential to fitting a shoe properly.

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 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 fitting guide to Fly London Boots, which is well worth a 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 less 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 to span the full range of possibilities.

In kid’s footwear, the impact of manufacturing in EU sizing can be even more extreme. For example, a infant shoe that is made from infant size 7, right up to a junior size 6 would require 25 different UK sizes. However, in European sizes there are just 17 required.

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.

 

Why do we think EU sizes translate exactly to a UK size?

This is a really 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 its 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. Conversion from EU sizing back to UK or US sizes leads to lots of headaches and fitting challenges for us and our customers!

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 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. The other side of the coin is you could argue we are being pedantic!

Kids Size Conversion Chart

Finding the Best Fit online

In conclusion, we recommend you use the charts above to convert sizes and they should be a great 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 is always a risks that the size will not work out for you so check out the returns instructions before you buy. There are some fantastic new brands emerge every year and ultimately its a risk worth taking if you would like to discover the best products on the market.

Feel free to contact us for advice on the translation of 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 the best we can and help you navigate the pitfalls of size conversion.

Happy Shoe Shopping!

Donald Begg