Global Clothing Industry In A Mess

The last time I brushed on the topic of the clothing stores idea of the dreaded numbers, clothes sizes. I know it’s a touchy subject but no matter how many people gloss over the facts, and try to give guise to the surface of reality, a sheen gloss with the likes of vanity sizing seems to be prominent. The more preferred style of sizing by most Boutique clothes stores. No one in the industry wants to commit and take the lead in the new revolution of turning upside down the present clothes Standardisation, which in a word is total Chaos. We are not alone in this mire. The USA, Spain, France and of course Europe are all suffering the changing room “torture- chamber”. Sizing guides of all European member states conflict Hence the high rate returns to retailers, for poor fitting clothes and the result is YOU the consumer disappointed, bemused, tired and frustrated.

This article is to arm you with some kind of explanation and the present status of the Clothing Industry from the Industry Standard side of the fence. Questions asked frequently, why is it that shopping in a High street boutique, that one style of clothes fits say a pair of size 12 trousers, yet from the same shop you try a pair of jeans in another style it’s either slightly tight or it doesn’t even get passed the knees. British Standard Institution (BSI) is trying to introduce a standardisation to reflect an overall agreed size within the member states of Europe. But most of the industries are opposed to the legislation that is being proposed with the size definition that is supposed to be the UK Average size 12, the numbers just don’t add up for the size of a standard UK size. For instance the BSI size is supposed to be 88-72-96.

Before the garment is even cut using the average size indicated, the chest size 88 is not of the average size 12 woman, also if one was to fit into this size garment you would look like a lamppost. When in actual fact it would not compliment you because the chest size is the wrong size, and yet it’s supposed to be the average size 12 woman. I would like to see the Government to step in and help to enforce legislation of a the census of measuring a broad scope of women throughout Britain the European Union wants to introduce uniform sizes, with a pictogram featuring metric measurements, but this has encountered some resistance. What’s needed, says Keith Shortland, of the British Standards Institution, is a comprehensive sizing survey from the main member states. “This has not happened; that’s the reason we’re held up. Manufacturers want to do their own thing – some try to make their sizes meet the Europeans halfway or the US halfway – and so each invents their own system.” Designer Wayne Hemingway, the founder of Red or Dead, says standardisation just doesn’t work.

Clothes retails are dragging their feet, because they want to shy away from standardisation that would throw emphasis on women and tag them with a size guide that is rigid and one that does not compliment with their body size. Hence a lot of the retailers love the size 0 or vanity size because without embarrassing women they can give the illusion that they are smaller in size than they thought when in actual fact in real terms they are wearing larger size clothing with small size tagging. Europe-Wide Standard: Following previous unsuccessful attempts to establish international standards for clothing sizes, which failed to be accepted by the clothing and retail industry, a renewed attempt is being made to develop a new Europe-wide standard based on metric body dimensions (draft BS EN 13402).

The British Standards Institution (BSI) carried out much of the research for this innovation, but it remains to be seen whether the reform is accepted by industry and consumers. The latest which Magazine says “EU guidelines” should mean that traditional UK sizes will be replaced. Frank Moore, the chairman of the committee for textiles and apparel at the European Committee for Standardization, is quoted in the latest issue of which Magazine as saying that a new sizing system will be introduced in continental Europe and that UK consumers “will get used to it”. So far no major retailer in Europe has shown any enthusiasm for the voluntary Europe-wide standard, still less any UK High Street clothing chain. The standard, established by the European Committee for Standardization – which includes EU and non-EU countries – is based on pictures, known as pictograms, marked with measurements in centimetres. It has also been agreed that the gap between one size and the next should be 4cm (1.6ins). So far the Standard size they propose to use as a benchmark is Chest – 98-102, Waist – 86-90 and standard height 174 – 178.
Part of the agreement is that a system coding would summarise the information made by the Pictogram, amongst the other proposals this is still in debate. With all these sweeping changes, upon completion, it will still be up to the retailers if they want to implement it. Over 28 member state countries use body size measurement in centimetres on labels, whilst in the UK most label up with both UK and Europe size. So armed with all this information, where are we going? We seem to be travelling generally down the same road, but exiting differently. What we should be doing for the future ahead is to at least sing from the same hymn sheet, that is for ALL European / Non European countries to agree in the coming years to carry out a reform for of the Industry to provide a unilateral Sizing Census exercise to collate information of body type, shape, height, age, cultural background into one central database, to use and to generate a flexible Standardisation that All countries can work within the boundaries agreed upon.

Will this happen, I hope so, because with every passing year encourages the circus of madness, which too many Women and Men isn’t funny anymore. If this census can be conducted, “toes” might be stud on in the Industry. But what are more important people? Is that we want to see less time in the dressing room and more time choosing the right colour, style & pattern in the mirror, knowing that the garment you have chosen fits you and makes you feel, as you wanted, GOOD about yourself. Instead at present the clothing industry, almost gives no choice in what you want, because the market has churned out a mass of one size fits all culture, with stretch style clothing garments, that they hope to brain wash everyone into the accepting that this is all and YOU will get used to it.

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