Sizing in Clothing: Developing Effective Sizing Systems for Ready‐to‐wear Clothing

Simeon Gill (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management

ISSN: 1361-2026

Article publication date: 19 September 2008




Gill, S. (2008), "Sizing in Clothing: Developing Effective Sizing Systems for Ready‐to‐wear Clothing", Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 579-581.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Sizing in clothing presents a snapshot of current international expert knowledge into determination and classification of garment sizing. New developments in methods and technology are contrasted with historical practice, allowing future possibilities to be explored. This is an invaluable resource for anyone conducting research into sizing or the pattern, showing the interrelated nature of the different aspects of clothing sizing and those involved with its development. Division into authored chapters allows aspects of sizing to be described in detail and there is a noticeable overlap in many areas especially regarding the application of scanning:

  • Chapter 1: Aldrich provides a detailed history of the evolution of sizing and the pattern, with clear visual examples. This discusses the introduction of measurement units and scientific tailoring principals providing the foundations for current practice. Changes in practice from garment to body measurements as well as mass surveys of the mid‐twentieth century are shown to contribute heavily to current sizing and pattern construction practice.

  • Chapter 2: Petrova investigates the creation and limitations of current sizing systems, requiring logical analysis which can be targeted at convenience or statistical coverage. The highly variable nature of individual proportions is found as a difficulty to fully encompassing sizing systems and has lead to a variety of simpler solutions to gain greatest coverage from the fewest sizes.

  • Chapter 3: Labat discusses sizing standardisation, its purpose and development. Noting that current standards are voluntary, focusing primarily on sizing communication as commercial and international practices differ with company and country. Europe and America are found to offer the most comprehensive standards and are the foundations for discussion here.

  • Chapter 4: Bougourd gives an expansive overview of body scanning, its applications and benefits, covering current UK body scanning research and the detailed information it can offer. Recognition of the target market is cited as important and details of fit analysis using models and virtual systems are outlined. Body scanning and the wealth of data and repeatable analysis promise to revolutionise clothing sizing.

  • Chapter 5: Schofiled provides the most insightful and clear critical examination of grading from historical to current methods and its shortcomings. Finding grading practices do not follow the dictates of sizing, but are often arbitrary amounts providing simplicity in application. It is clear greater clarity between the measurements and the pattern would help to improve grading and subsequently sizing.

  • Chapter 6: Daanen and Reffeltrath discuss the areas of function and fit in sizing, requiring consideration of human movement and thermal comfort. Body scanning is again recognised as offering many advantages and fit mapping is detailed, stressing the importance of finding the most suitable size from matching garment and anthropometric variables.

  • Chapter 7: Chun covers global communication of sizing, with reference to standards and highlights the difficulties of current abstract sizing systems. Target markets play a role in segmentation of sizing for companies, whilst communication of sizing requires input from the customer and manufacturer.

  • Chapter 8: Loker introduces mass customisation and its greater achievement by structure and technology. Strategies are required to implement mass customisation for both sizing and pattern construction, with new methods of fit analysis using body scanning and virtual technologies pivotal in its realisation.

  • Chapter 9: Branson and Nam outline the complexities different materials bring to sizing and fit, providing a fit judgement framework to help analysis. Stretch and non‐stretch fabrics are discussed separately as they are recognised to behave and affect fit differently. Future fit requirements promise to be influenced by fabric developments especially for performance clothing.

  • Chapter 10: Todd discusses sizing, related to military protective garments, outlining many considerations for achieving correct size when function requirements are a priority. The unification of fit and appearance present further difficulties for military clothing, though body scanning offers benefits.

  • Chapter 11: Lewis introduces clothing aesthetics into sizing considerations, including fit choices of the individual, opposed to those of the designer. Society and groups can influence fit decisions, adding another variable to the complexities of fit.

  • Chapter 12: Ashdown et al. describe home sewing and sizing with a focus on the home sewing pattern. Production of the pattern is currently undertaken by limited companies, though each offers a variety of fittings within its ranges. Methods for individual adaptation of these mass‐sized patterns are presented and the new developments of custom home sewn patterns promise to be improved through the application of developing technology.

  • Chapter 13: Ashdown et al. provide context for the discussion of sizing within garment production explaining the multivariate problems existing throughout the construction process. It is clear that production can impact fit from stretching fabrics to treating fabrics and all this must be accounted for in the design.

The complex issues outlined in each chapter show the interrelated micro‐environments in which areas of research exist. Most would benefit from the use of more clear visual imagery to express the often complex abstract ideas and there is a need for a more detailed map showing how the micro‐environments in each chapter overlap. This book must be commended for the insight it provides, though it is rooted in classical approaches to the problems of sizing, it provides opportunities to identify areas of future clothing sizing research.

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