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EU SHOE SIZE TO UK CONVERSION

A popular query our customers have for our fitting specialists is how to work out the conversion from EU shoe sizes into UK shoe sizes? So we thought we’d write an explanation which might shed some light on the question.

Eu to UK size conversion

Firstly, a bit of background on why EU sizes are so prevalent in shoe sizing these days. 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 in 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.

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, Peter Kaiser, Ara and Legero still make many of their shoes in UK whole and half sizes as they believe it is essential to fitting a shoe properly.

The problem with creating lasts for whole and half UK sizes is that it is expensive to do so, and mass production of shoes can be done at a lower cost if there are less sizes to be produced. Normally to make shoes that can still be fit properly you need to have UK whole and half sizing. Therefore there are often 14-17 different sizes that a specific style has to be made in. In kids’ shoes this can be even greater! EG: A shoe that is made in an infant size 7 going up to a junior size 6 requires 25 different sizes! A more cost-effective solution is to reduce the sizing down and EU sizing allows manufacturers to do this. Contrary to common understanding, EU sizes do not translate directly to UK sizes, typically they jump around 5/6 of a UK sizes for every EU size. The chart below visually explains the conversion between EU Shoes Size to UK sizing.

Often when producing in EU sizes there are only 7-9 sizes to be made in a style which is a lot easier than up to 25 sizes!

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

The best explanation is likely due to the way most retailers convert their shoes and advertise the conversion. For instance, very few retailers (including lower quality shoe retailers liked Shoe Zone and generalist retailers like Debenhams or John Lewis) show how their shoes are actually sized because they translate them for you (without you even knowing). They believe it is easier for their customers to have the EU size translated for them.

Therefore, EU sizes are often converted to UK using the following methodology for women:

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

Confusingly for men’s they would follow this approach:

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

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

The best explanation is likely due to the way most retailers convert their shoes and advertise the conversion. For instance, very few retailers (including lower quality shoe retailers liked Shoe Zone and generalist retailers like Debenhams or John Lewis) show how their shoes are actually sized because they translate them for you (without you even knowing). They believe it is easier for their customers to have the EU size translated for them.

Therefore, EU sizes are often converted to UK using the following methodology for women:

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

Confusingly for men’s they would follow this approach:

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

eu to uk size conversion
eu to uk size conversion kids

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 will vary drastically between brands.  Conversion from EU sizing, which most shoes are made in, into UK sizing leads to lots of headaches & fitting challenges for us and our customers! 

Every day in every one of our stores we have ladies asking for a size 8 shoe.  Very few actually need a size 8 as they have been buying size 41’s for years without knowing it is actually a size 41.  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! 

In conclusion, we recommend that the charts above are used as a guide as to how best to convert but at the end of the day the key is finding a shoe that fits you properly.  What the exact size is should not be a concern as measurement is only ever a starting point in finding a shoe that fits. 

If you ever need guidance on translation of EU shoe sizes to UK sizes, please do contact us by phone or email or better still come into our shops to meet our fitting specialists who can ensure that you find the right size AND fitting.

Happy Shoe Shopping! 

Donald Begg

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By | 2018-09-10T10:16:32+00:00 September 7th, 2018|Categories: General News|