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Sizing Things Up- Standard or Custom? Which one are you?




Sizing Things Up- Standard or Custom? Which one are you?


Thanks to Ethical Fashion, a group out of New York, we found this interesting insight into the sizing industry. How often have you people watched on a busy sidewalk and been fascinated by the sheer diversity of shapes and sizes of human form or bought a piece of clothing to wonder who came up with these measurements? Many artisans, artists and designers who fall into making their own clothes do so initially because what they want is out of their price range or not on the market. Making your own clothing is an empowering act.  

Regarding this issue of sizing and how these decisions are made, it is very interesting to consider a paper released almost 12 years ago and published by the National Textile Center Annual Report in November 2002 titled, Automated Garment Development from Body Scan Data.  The research team was based out of Cornel University with the project funded by the National Textile Center.  It provides fascinating information that not only reveals the industry ( whether it be fashion or CAD/CAM/Scanning) issues with customization. Below is an excerpt that is just one of many interesting tidbits that some may argue, but one of the big questions is what has really changed? Especially considering the video above. 


     In our program, six formulas are used to identify the standard size closest to the person’s body size. Women’s size measurements are based on certain major dimensions like bust, waist, hip, and are given more weight than the other measurements. In making the size determination, a variable called the Tolerance Difference is calculated to find the number of standard measurements that do not coincide with the person’s measurements. Hence, the standard size, which has the lowest Tolerance Difference value, is the closest size for the person. Thus, our program identifies a person’s closest standard size and determines the number of measurements that do not coincide with that size.
      The current sizing standard was significantly insufficient at describing the body shapes/sizes of most of the subjects 
compared in this study. Inconsistencies existed in almost 50% of the measurements compared within the one size that was determined to provide the “Best Fit” for each subject. Among the 254 subjects, 183 were between the age of 18 and 30, the age group best represented by the ASTM standards. These finding suggest that researchers could 
significantly impact consumer satisfaction with the fit of apparel by working to redevelop the sizing systems to more accurately reflect the shapes of today’s consumers. 
Click to see the whole paper.

Click to see the whole paper.

To carry this on a bit further, looking at 2014, on a google search to find customization based on body scanning, we came across a Kickstarter campaign (that got funding) for customized men suits based on body scan data. The kick (pardon the pun) is that instead of establishing a brick and mortar store, the team behind this project sought to keep cost down and create a mobile truck they named the Tailor Truck that traveled to major cities like LA, Chicago and NY to scan, customize and produce mens suits.

So often when we think of issues of sizing, we think of women's apparel, but the demand for customization on an affordable level is enough for entrepreneurs trying to chip into the market potential. Interestingly, Brooks Brothers has been testing the waters in their NY upper eastside store, what they are coining as Digital Tailoring

Click to see video

Click to see video

Low and behold, remember that research paper mentioned above, well Cornell has continuously conducted research to explore the assumptions of an industry that " Before scan studies were possible, the last traditional anthropometric (body-measurement) survey of the civilian population for apparel sizing purposes was conducted in 1941 and was not accurate for modern body shapes."(Cornell site)