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Sizing Survey Benefits Many Manufacturers

SCRC member Milliken & Company, Textile/Clothing Technology Corporation ([TC]2), and NC State University plan to obtain data to improve the way clothes fit the U.S. population. Results will be used for a better understanding of body shapes for use in not only apparel, but also in the automotive, aerospace, and furniture industries. The study will benefit both manufacturers and consumers.

Why do we need a national sizing survey?

It is widely recognized that the size offerings of apparel in retail establishments in the United States serves the consuming public poorly. Sizing systems in place at most major apparel companies date back to the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s for lack of better information. Companies use sales data to get feedback on what sizes are selling and in what proportions – but sales data never capture lost sales. Not only is the consuming public being poorly served by this, but the retailer (and the upstream apparel manufacturer) loses out on considerable sales volume. Inevitably, people are forced to have expensive alterations done or simply wear clothes that fit poorly. An overall assessment indicates that significant industry inefficiency, lost business opportunity, and consumer frustration results from the lack of current size and size distribution data for the U.S. population.

When was the last U.S. size survey?

The fact is that a comprehensive study of the size and shape distributions of the United States civilian population has never been done. Historically, almost all U.S. sizing surveys conducted were for the U.S military for the purpose of sizing equipment and military apparel. The reason no civilian (public or private) studies have been done is because the cost of conducting a statistically significant manual sizing study would be astronomical. A comprehensive manual measuring procedure can easily exceed one hour per subject, and the number of subjects required to meet the criteria of statistical validity would be many thousands.

The National Sizing Survey

There is an overwhelming need for accurate and statistically significant U.S. population size and shape data. A recent successful sizing survey in the United Kingdom has proven that such an undertaking is now possible. A “fully automated” survey that relies on safe and private 3D body scanning using white light and does not require any manual tape measurements will yield accurate and comprehensive data that will serve as a valuable tool for many U.S. industries. The potential benefits of a national sizing survey are tremendous. A few industry examples of the productive use of the resulting data are:

Apparel – enable the establishment of national sizing scales for all ranges of apparel product to better serve consumers and to enhance the business performance of apparel retailers and manufacturers.

Automotive/Aerospace/Commercial Airlines – establish size/fit/comfort parameters for all passengers and improve the precision/comfort/performance of drivers and pilots.

Furniture and Ergonomics – understanding human size ranges and distribution would enable ergonomic furniture and human interface equipment design across all industries.

Medical/Health – size, weight, and body volume characteristics would provide a valuable reference of the human body size and shape trends in the United States and allow for analysis with corresponding health trends.

How will the survey be conducted?

[TC]2, a not-for-profit U.S. sewn products industry organization, is leading the effort to conduct the U.S. national sizing survey. Anyone who has ever been frustrated by trying to determine which size shirt, jeans, or other clothing item will fit best or has spent a lot of time going through the alteration process will benefit from a new technology developed by [TC]2. This technology is a 3D Body Measurement System which includes a white light-based scanner and proprietary measurement extraction software. The scanner captures hundreds of thousands of data points of an individual’s image, and the software automatically extracts dozens of measurements. This measurement information can be electronically compared to garment specifications and other data in order to recommend the size an individual should purchase or used as a basis for made to measure clothing. This technology has tremendous implications for consumers shopping throughout all distribution channels, including bricks-and-mortar, catalog, and on-line.

The 3rd Semi-Annual SCRC Meeting included a presentation by Jim Lovejoy from [TC]2. An overview of the DAMA (Demand Activated Manufacturing Architecture) project was given, outlining the group’s objective: to identify and demonstrate the means by which the U.S. fiber, textile, apparel, and retail industries can reduce time in the pipeline by 50%. Go to for more information on the sizing survey.