With the increase in online shopping clothing retailers are forced to consider how their garment fit fares across a global demographic. While many will argue that retailers are facing an impossible task, I am not yet ready to agree. There is much that can be done to not only make it possible for any given brand to target multiple body shapes but also to improve the overall fit of RTW. Poor garment fit, particularly with regards to the plus size market has consumed the efforts of manufacturers for many years now.
Sadly, the technologies that could address global market desires and solve garment fit woes, to radicalize the apparel trade like never before, are also the distractions that blind us to the root causes of these problems and the easily implemented solutions.
One such example is the issue with pattern shaping for the mid-torso area of the body. This key body fitting area effects almost all garments but most notable bra and waistband fit. While technology can measure and virtually recreate a person as a 3D avatar, it has difficulties fitting this very relevant body area. A computer generated garment pattern will likely have fitting concerns that will require further correction in a CAD MTM environment. Technology can deliver patterns that fit average bodies but not outlier bodies. The problem is, what is considered outlier far exceds what is considered average!
A culmination of decades of work yet the answer lies not with our technologies but our methodologies.
I offer the following images to support my claim. The images on the left illustrate the three common measurements used to replicate mid-torso shaping on a pattern; bust, waist and hip. (Sometimes a ribcage and abdomen measurement are used but very seldom.) The images on the right illustrate the actual measurements required to assess this area; highbust, average ribcage, bust, ribcage, highwaist, lowaist, abdomen and hip. Using your imagination to connect the measurement landmark lines on the side of the body, it is easy to observe how shape is better assessed with eight areas in lieu of three or five. Technology using the measurements on left will continue to fall short on assessing body weight distribution not because of inherent technological flaws but because of real world problems carried forward.
Technology has much to offer us with regards to improving garment fit; body scanners for measuring, databases for analysis, CAD software to facilitate pattern making, and 3D environments for virtual fitting. I am not suggesting that these Industry 4.0 essential tools will not, or won’t continue to, solve apparel industry problems. I am simply saying that technology should not distract us from the fundamental problems with shaping patterns to bodies.
*NOTE* The following, previously shared, patterns illustrate shaping that is possible with the above detailed measurement of the mid-torso area. While it may be tempting to assume that only physical hand fittings can achieve shaping like this, it is not true. These are MTM automated patterns, generated after thorough measurement of the body and shaped using proprietary methods to analyze body weight and height distribution. These patterns have not been heuristically fit and are not morphologically classified prior to data analysis. These patterns illustrate the potential for CAD MTM to aid the apparel trade in addressing garment fit across a global population.
I’m always up for a chat regarding garment fit so please relay your challenging questions to me.