Experts in fashion sizing believe that providing the right fit is growing in importance, as consumers demand more for their money.
The role of 3D body scanners was also discussed at an interactive sizing and fashion technology workshop in the UK this month, organised by the Association of Suppliers to the British Clothing Industry (ASBCI).
Representatives from Asos, Boden, Burberry, Burtons and Bhs menswear, Dorothy Perkins, George, Joules, Marks & Spencer, Monsoon, Mothercare, Next, Topman, Topshop and Peacocks were among nearly 200 delegates to attend the seminar, held in Leicester.
Speakers at the event expressed that with the “decade of quantity” behind us, brands are being urged to enter a “decade of quality” in order to uplift sales.
State of the art technologies such as 3D body scanners , which generate detailed shape data by age, gender, ethnicity and geographic area, are already playing a major role in creating the right fit.
The ASBCI seminar programme opened with apparel fit expert Ed Gribbin, president, Alvanon, who tackled the consumer “fit frustration factor.” He argued that: “The disposable fast fashion decade of quantity is finished”.
In the face of a UK and European population in which two-thirds of its female population is obese, he also urged fashion suppliers to abandon the old idealistic “hourglass or athletic build” fit standards. He said it was time to adopt scientific fit practices and processes based on real consumer shape data generated by 3D body scanners and design garments on 3D virtual Avatars and customised technical fit forms.
Karen Schiller, senior consultant fashion, Lectra said: “Global morphology is very varied so fashion suppliers should go to size surveys to identify their target consumer demographic, then generate body measure charts for their consumers that can be translated into design and pattern charts.
“There is no investment in fabric or shipping and it allows for fine tuning before any physical samples are made saving time and money. Making clothes that look good for size 8, 10 or 12s is easy but making clothes that fit well on size 14 plus is more challenging
“Some fashion companies are still making five or six physical samples of a design before approval.”
Dr Jochen Balzulat, director 3D body scanning, Assyst Bullmer UK partner Human Solutions GmBH said he was committed to delivering the technology that: “adapts products to the real human shape by providing detailed information on customers’ sizes and shapes.”
The Human Solution 3D laser body scanner collects detailed measurements of size, shape and posture from which it produces size tables.
This vital marketing information can be used to determine market share potential for companies thinking about exporting product into new overseas markets. It is also used to produce 3D models upon which 2D patterns can be “thrown”, modified and validated.
Shaping the future
Andrew Crawford, managing director of consumer shape research specialist Sizemic has worked extensively on a number of the UK’s largest shape collection projects, including Size UK.
He advised delegates to: “move away from its fixation with linear measurements as they have little to do with body shape.” The industry must acknowledge that the classic hourglass figure of the 1940s and 50 is now straighter and less curvy, he added.
Putting the 3D fit theory into practice is Jackie Lewis, head of technology ladieswear with the UK’s largest e-tailer Shop Direct Group (SDG). Lewis gave delegates an insight into how SDG developed and launched its new 50+ fashion brand isme.com.
Recognising that body shape changes as people get older, SDG tasked it technical teams and isme designers to create: “Fashion with no age barrier” and to focus on women between 50 and 65 years where the average dress size is 14.
Using body shape data taken from real women in the target population helped isme designers produce clothes that fit, using new sleeve lengths, neck drops, hemlines, revised bust darts, rise lengths over tummies together with discrete control panels in trousers, curved waist bands and trouser leg lengths.
Shoppers were then invited to wear and try the garments and their feedback informed new designs. It therefore appears that fit is playing a central role in providing added value for shoppers in an age were quality is non-negotiable.
The ASBCI interactive sizing and fashion technology workshop and seminar is the latest in a series of events organised by the association. Previous ‘sector specific’ seminars run by the association have addressed sizing and fit issues in children’s wear, fashion & corporate wear and in lingerie, swimwear and sportswear.