THE FIT PROBLEM

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LAST CENTURY FIT PREMISE STILL USED TODAY

  • Fit was standardized in 1952 by the government based on an hourglass shape, only 20% of the global population.

  • The average woman today is size 16 and we are much more diverse.

  • Fit as an independent brand attribute and it no longer serves the consumer nor the brand.

  • The fashion brands still use one fit model and sizing methods are outdated.

  • Fashion tech companies today filter women through to products that are mostly made with the same dated model.

  • Fit is the most common reason to return an online order at 43%

There is so much discrepancy out there from brand to brand that it is hard for women to find garments that fit, and with everything moving online it is even a bigger problem.

Today’s sizing was created beginning in 1946, during World War II. Women at the time were either sewing their own clothing, or hiring tailors to make their clothes for them. As women entered the workforce and rural America expanded, catalog purchases grew. In an effort to create some sort of standard, like men had from the Civil War uniform sizing, the government measured 15,000 Caucasian military women (post food rationing). 

 

In 1952, the Mail Order Association (with Sears & Roebuck as the lead) demanded a government regulated fit standard. The above measurements were used, and averaged out to the hourglass shape, assuming from the sample base that the only shape was hourglass.  Visually to most people when looking at a small size, women's shapes look similar enough that it was taken for granted. They published their study with results in 1958, and had sizes ranging from 8 to 38 with notations for height and girth. The flawed results became the basic standards for fit models, and patterns. 

 

In 1983, Ronald Reagan lifted the standards, which enabled designers to offer vanity sizing where each business adjusted clothing sizes to fit their customer base, or their designer’s aesthetic. Vanity sizing was used by some brands to make women feel like they were smaller, thus the name. 

 

The result is where we are today, with the main problem being clothes that don’t fit. In the women’s apparel industry fashion brands typically use a singular fit model (live or digital), and then size (grade) their patterns up, or down a half inch to achieve their own range of sizes. Scientifically, only 20% of woman’s bodies change like the base hourglass shape. Today, we must address a much more ethnically and genetically diverse audience with shapes and sizes being in huge variance - mainly because of change in lifestyle and eating / exercising habits.

 

About 20 years ago, Cricket Lee debuted shapes and her invention the first online FitFinder. Year after year, many technology data companies started creating online algorithms much like her system to filter women through to brands that might fit them. Unfortunately, these companies may get accurate data on woman’s bodies, but rarely give the woman her right fit because the brands are still using this antiquated fit premise. These apparel data technologies will keep providing data, trying to filter women through to something that might fit, but the customers are still frustrated with the results. This means there is a lot of new technology in the market, but they are still using an outdated method - still based on the regional average applications established so long ago, resulting in much waste in returns and inaccurate planning.

 

There are also many more issues caused by misperceptions of the human body, fit competition, and inconsistent applications throughout the supply chain. This old competitive fit paradigm obviously no longer works as a point of differentiation for the fashion brands.