The Right Fit

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The National Sizing Survey of India is arguably a big step forward for the Indian Apparel industry. The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi under the aegis of the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India, is undertaking an extensive research study to develop a comprehensive size chart for ready to wear industry based on these body measurements of the Indian population.  This is a scientific exercise where anthropometric data will be collected from a sample population in the age group 15 to 65 years to create a database of measurements that will culminate in a standardized size chart truly representative of the Indian population, which can be adopted by the entire apparel industry.

What’s Your Size?

The fundamental question that was asked before embarking upon the survey was “how many times have you found your perfect size in a readymade dress?” Well, it is likely that if you ask yourself this question, the answer more often than not is never. This is why a project of this magnitude has taken seed and is now all set to embark on the task over a period of at least the next couple of years. With the ecommerce sector booming, Indians are increasingly shopping online and this standard size can certainly augur well for the online market space. Likewise a standard size as far as India is concerned is also required considering the huge market size. Children will not be part of this exercise.

Global Context

Research studies on fit and human-body measurements conducted across the globe indicate that a large percentage of shoppers face difficulty in finding clothes that fit perfectly according to their body measurements. “The overarching reason is differences in anthropometric built of people in different geographical regions across the country. This has led countries to undertake national sizing surveys to create anthropometric database of measurements which is a true representation of the entire population, to cater to their respective retail industry. The size charts and insights generated through these surveys and corresponding analysis has helped garment industry to provide well-fitting garments designed as per the body structure of the native population,” says a NIFT spokesperson. Till date, more than fourteen countries across the world have undertaken and successfully completed national sizing surveys like USA, Canada, Mexico, UK, France, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Netherlands, Thailand, Korea, China, Australia etc. The projects have been undertaken as a collaborative effort in consortium mode by Governments, technology companies, academic institutions and apparel industry. It entailed measuring of statistically relevant sample size pan country using human safe technology of 3D whole body scanner (which is a non-contact method of taking body measurements) and analyzing the collected data to create size charts.

India Matters

India is also facing the same dilemma as Indian apparel industry and uses size charts which are largely tweaked versions of size charts of other countries and are created more out of the manufacturer’s instinct and experience than proven scientific study resulting in fits which leave lot to desire. For the longest time, India has used the US or the UK system of ‘Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large.’ The projected returns of a garment are in the range of 20% to 40% (and are increasing with the growth of ecommerce) and the major reason for these returns is poor garment fit. Providing well-fitting garments in the absence of standardized size chart is proving to be a big challenge for the domestic textile and apparel industry in India which is projected to reach USD123 billion by 2021 and holds 5th position in apparel exports. “India is attempting to undertake its own anthropometric survey to take care of these disparities and inconsistencies in apparel sizing systems and provided fits. The proposed study aims at standardizing the apparel size charts for the Indian apparel sector. Apart from apparel, the findings of the study will have ramifications across various sectors such as automotive, aerospace, fitness and sport, art, computer gaming etc. where the insights from this data can produce ergonomically designed products which are well suited for the Indian population,” says a NIFT spokesperson.

Project Details

The project approved by Government of India  will entail measuring of 25000 (Twenty Five Thousand) male and female persons between the age group of  15 years and 65 years in six different cities located in six regions of India namely Kolkata (East), Mumbai (West), New Delhi (North), Hyderabad (Centre), Bengaluru (South), and Shillong (North-East) using 3D whole body scanners. Areas of large congregations like festival grounds in adjoining rural areas will also be covered. Whole-body scanners capture highly accurate 3D body maps in less than 10 seconds in one posture. The computer automatically extracts hundreds of measurements from a scan while eliminating manual measurement and transcription errors. A body scan thus produced is in the form of a point cloud, from measurements are extracted through computer programming. “The point cloud data thus created as part of this project will be confidential and secure. The technology is quick, accurate and human safe and helps immensely reduce the time frame of the anthropometric surveys. The duration of the activity will be approximately two years from the date of commencement. Areas of large congregations like festival grounds in adjoining rural areas will also be covered. Whole-body scanners capture highly accurate 3D body maps in less than 10 seconds in one posture,” says a NIFT spokesperson.

The role of NIFT

NIFT is the pioneering institute of Fashion education in the country and is a statutory institute under an Act of Parliament of India, under the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. NIFT was established in 1986 in New Delhi. Today, it offers under-graduate, masters’ and doctoral degrees in the fields of design, management and technology in the area of fashion and apparel, with 16 campuses pan India. NIFT is the implementing agency for the National Sizing survey and will be pressing its centres across the country including faculty and students from various campuses in the organization of the survey and in the related research. The support of National and international experts with experience in sizing surveys is being taken. Senior faculty of NIFT from across the country who have specialized in sizing studies have been brought together to undertake this project. NIFT will also be holding extensive consultations with the apparel industry to align sizing requirements with the final pan India size chart, and to avail of their support in the conduct of the survey. “The standardized size chart for Indian apparel will be of tremendous value to the consumer in providing  better fits for the Indian consumer both within the country and abroad. It will be a great boost to the industry through the reduction of returns, and increased customer satisfaction, drawing greater attention to Indian apparel and exports,” concludes a NIFT spokesperson. So well, it’s time to size up.

This article appeared in the April issue of Apparel Magazine here: Size

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