Why Are Shoe Sizes Different From Country To Country?

Since international shoemakers follow different measuring systems, they measure the dimensions of the shoe’s mold differently. In a global shoe market, it’s hard to have a universal system. 

Have you ever tried to purchase a shoe online? Do you have a hard time determining your exact shoe size according to your local metric system? If so, you’ll most probably pay for extra shipping fees. You might ask, why are shoe sizes differ from country to country?

If you purchase shoes online as a regular buyer or a merchant, you’ll need to understand shoe sizes around the world! You want to avoid ordering the wrong shoe sizes because it can be such a hassle to return your shoe. And then wait for the store to ship the correct size. It’s a headache you don’t want to have. So, here’s how shoes are measured and compared.

US Shoe Sizes

The US shoe sizing system is the most common type of sizing in the world. Generally, US shoe sizes range from 4 to 12 for women and 6 to 16 for men. Men’s feet tend to be wider than women’s. So, men’s shoes are wider while women’s shoes tend to be narrower.

But there are some exceptions. Shoe brands have their own modified version of this system. For example, if you bought a pair of sneakers one year with the size 6, the size may become 5 or 7 the coming year. So, even within one brand, you can find slight differences.

In the US shoe sizing system, kids and teenagers have different rules than adults. It doesn’t make a distinction between genders, but the sizes differ based on age group. It’s because children’s feet grow faster than adults.

It brings up the importance of learning your correct shoe size, as wearing the wrong size will lead to deformed feet. Kids who wear the wrong size of shoes tend to develop foot problems. As they grow up, this could hamper their development.

You can measure your shoe size with the Brannock Device. It’s a handy device that measures length, arch, and width.

If you’re going to order a shoe online, it’s a good start to visit your local shoe stores and get your feet measured. It’ll help you later with converting your shoe size to whatever system life throws at you.

You can even order a Brannock device online if you’re not inclined to visit the local shoe store. While it’s not a fail-proof method, it’s reliable enough for individual use.

Are US Shoes Sizes The Same As Canadian Shoe Sizes?

Canadian shoe sizes follow the same rules as the US, whether for adults or children. If you know your size in the US, it wouldn’t be hard to figure out your size according to the Canadian system.

Are The US And UK Shoe Sizes The Same?

Almost! Shoe sizes in the UK are a little closer to shoe sizes in the US. For women, the difference is 2 sizes. For men, it’s a 0.5 size. For example, if you buy a women’s shoe size 10 in the US, it’ll be 8 in the UK. If you buy a men’s shoe size with 12.5 in the US, it’ll be 12 in the UK.

To illustrate, the UK shoe sizing system uses the length of the last, which is measured in barleycorns (thirds of an inch). And the size starts from the smallest number: zero. In the US and Canada, sizes start from 1. Hence, the difference in sizes.

Still, some shoemakers follow their own rules. When in doubt, feel free to contact the seller and ask about their shoe size chart. It’s usually available on their website.

Are US Shoes Sizes The Same As Australian Shoe Sizes?

Not exactly! The Australian shoe sizing system is a hybrid of the US and UK shoe sizing systems. However, most shoe stores in Australia use US shoe sizes. They share more with the US than the UK when it comes to shoe sizes.

EU Shoe Sizes

The shoes you buy in Europe don’t necessarily follow the European system. In the same vein, shoes that follow the US shoe sizing system don’t have to be American-made as a rule. They may be imported and ticketed with the national shoe sizing system.

The prevalent shoe sizing unit in Europe (except the UK) today is the Paris point. The origin of the Paris point goes back to mid-19th France. It’s the measure of an individual stitch length of a doubt stitch. By the way, the Paris point is two-thirds of a centimeter (6.67 mm).

Are US And EU Shoe Sizes The Same?

While the US shoe sizing system distinguishes between adult and children’s shoes, the EU system doesn’t. Instead, you’ll find a wide range of shoe sizes, from small to big. The tiniest shoe sizes are for infants, and the largest shoe sizes are for men.

CM Shoe Sizes

The Mondopoint system is the last attempt to have a universal shoe sizing system. In 1980, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) introduced this system. While the prevailing shoe sizing systems depend on measuring the last, the Mondopoint system measures the feet instead. Therefore, you can apply it regardless of shoe type.

The Mondopoint measures the length of the feet in millimeters and the width in percentage. For example, if your foot length is 25.5 cm and width is 22 cm, your Mondopoint shoe size would be 255/86. Because 86% is the percentage between width and length.

Unfortunately, the Mondosystem was too hard for laypeople to understand, let alone used. At least, it proved convenient for calculating ski boot sizes.

All in all, there can’t be a universal shoe sizing system. It’s more than size. No two feet are exactly the same, and shoes are mass-produced. Plus, people around the world have different foot anatomy.

Until someone invent a reliable 3D measuring tool or offer personalized shoemaking for your unique feet, you’re stuck with the Brannock device to get the closest measures possible to your correct shoe size. Perhaps, you’ll discover that you’ve worn the wrong shoe size all your life.

How to find your foot length

For now, you’ll have to take the risk of shopping online. But before you do, here’s a DIY method to measure your own feet. You’ll need paper, a pencil, rules, and maybe a friend to help you:

Remember to measure your feet at the end of the day as they may swell up a bit during the day.

  • Grab a blank piece of paper larger than your feet.
  • Put the paper on a flat surface.
  • Sit down and place your feet on the paper.
  • Draw a line right behind your heel
  • Draw another line just in front of the longest toe
  • Measure the distance between the two lines

Congrats! Now, you know your foot length and you can use that when shopping online for your next pair of shoes.

Latest articles

Go to Top