We all know how frustrating it can be when garments just fit badly – the armhole is all wrong. Or the hip is too tight. Or there are drag lines in strange places. It’s even worse when you grab 3 size 10s off the rack, and they all fit so differently! One is too big; another may be way too tight! How irritating!
Customer dissatisfaction in how clothes fit has always been an important issue for brands. In today’s environment of online shopping, it’s now even more essential to focus efforts on your sizing. You want your customers to be confident to purchase the right size, be happy with their purchase. You want them to become repeat customers, and eliminate expensive returns…
Why industry sizing does not work
At first glance, it may seem customer’s irritations may be solved if all brands were to use the same fit standards. Wouldn’t this address the inconsistency of fit from one brand to the next?
But in fact, industry standard sizing does not work. For a start, the industry standards for women are not up to date with current body types. They are based on an hourglass figure, that less than 10 per cent of the population actually have. For example, the waist measurements on industry standards are often not representative of most women – they are disproportionately too small. Lifestyle choices and diet have had a big impact on people’s body shapes and sizes. It’s also due to the diversity of cultures in our society, and how people are all different shapes and sizes.
Many brands opt for their own brand standard sizing and use it to differentiate themselves & compete with other brands. They create their standards based on research into their target customers demographics, psychographics, and lifestyle, and their overall brand strategy.
How to create sizing standards for your brand
So how do we go about creating standard fit measurements for your brand?
The first step is to learn about your own customers sizing. It may help to think about:
- what is your customer’s age and body type?
- how does the wearer move in their clothes?
- what size range do your customers prefer?
- how should you name your size range (to keep your customers happy)?
- how close or loose fitting do your customer wish the garments to look and fit?
The next step is to work out a set of body measurements that represent the shape of your target customer. This can be a challenge due to the variety of sizes and shapes your customers. Try to look at your average customer. Try not to idealise your customer, and make the measurements based on what you think would look best. You want to accurately represent those who are or will be buying your clothes. And be careful not to base the measurements on yourself, unless you are the same as your average customer. Once you have your brands size measurements, use them for the middle size in your Brand’s Standard Size Range.
Next you need to consider ease. To get an idea of the amounts of ease within different styles, download my guide to ease here.
These Standard size and ease measurements can now be used to guide future decisions on silhouettes, sizing, fit, shape, materials when developing your fashion line.
It may be hard to obtain sizing information from your customers. If so, you can obtain it from other brands or from industry size standards. But be careful that when looking at these sources, as they might not suit your brand. As I mentioned above, be careful as the current [womens] industry standards are based on an hourglass figure, that is not a true representative of real women’s body shapes.
Your brand size standards will evolve and change over time, as you learn more details about your customers. Unless you offer custom sizing, remember to try to minimize the number of sizes you offer – to keep inventories down.
The next step is to go ahead and make pattern blocks and specifications.
Every time you develop styles using these pattern block and specifications, you add to your style library. When using pattern blocks, the creation process is faster than when creating a pattern from scratch. Creating styles from standard blocks will save you development time, sampling changes, and reduced errors.
Why do brands have issues with inconsistent fit
Having brand size standards are so beneficial. Then why are there so many established brands that have fit problems or consistency issues with the fit?
Well, not all brands invest the time and effort in making brand standards for sizing and patterns.
Many fast fashion brands fast track their development process by knocking-off or tracing other garments they like. They make an exact copy without observing a brand fit strategy. The resulting garments have inconsistent fits, and they may not have underlying structure of a good pattern.
Other brands may leave the patternmaking to their factory and have no knowledge or want no control over their patterns. If your brand uses these techniques, expect a longer development process. When following standards, fit sessions are usually more about the look of the design, the details, and the fabric. When standards aren’t follower, the fit sessions for each and every style will be more comprehensive: addressing fit problems; balancing of each pattern; requiring more fit samples to fix.
It is extremely hard for a brand to develop a signature fit and style without a brand size strategy.
Standardising the fit sessions
If you work with a fit model, their height and width measurements should meet your brands standards. The fit model should represent your customers actual body shape and type, rather than an aspirational ideal. There may be someone in your team, a friend or relative you can use to avoid high fit model fees.
Dress forms are available in all genders and categories, but they are expensive. The majority of dress forms are an idealised body shape, rather than one that matches your customer. Following an idealised form can also cause fit issues for your brand. You may wish to invest in padding for your form, like as supplied by Fabulous Fit.
Fit issues can also occur from following the current industry Standards. Unfortunately, these standards are based on the ideal body shape, and only represent a small portion of the population.
Enabling faster development
Upfront work in setting up you sizing strategy can set your business up for success.
Do you need help with technical product development, with tech packs, patterns & samples, production or quality control? Or perhaps you need help with sourcing, ideas, focussing? Are you needing one-on-one training to help you do-it-yourself? If any of these sound like you, reach out and I can walk you through how we can work together.
Book a free 30 minute discovery call through my Calendly via the below link. Leverage my 15 years fashion industry experience to help you get to the next level.