With a population of 1.4 billion, India still does not host a sizing guide for itself making it complicated for us to find clothes that fit us. This issue is not only persistent for us but for retailers as well which has caused many brands (luxury as well as home-grown ones) hesitant to enter the Indian market. So, what exactly is the issue with sizing, how can we solve it? Let’s start by understand where sizing guidelines first came from.
Origin of sizing guidelines
Before sizing guidelines and the mass manufacturing of garments, all clothes were made to measure. Ready-to-wear clothing first began in the US military in the 1800s mainly for males. Since military suits were mainly made for male bodies, sizing was issued based on chest size and by the end of 19th century a majority of the male population in North America and Europe wore pre-made, sized clothing.
While men’s clothing was based on chest size, women’s clothing is based on a multitude of factors like bust, waist, hip, and height measurements which made women’s clothing harder to generalise. The first world war heightened the need for pre-measured and made garments for soldiers. Following World War I, things started to change. Regardless of status, ladies desired access to cheap, in-style clothing since money was limited. And thus followed the mass production of sized clothes and eventually mass retailers of these clothes.
The United Kingdom having no set sizing guideline followed the US system until 1982 and started following their own measure when they developed their standard measure called BS 3666. Europe started coming up with sizing guidelines in 1885 and have continued altering them to the BS 3666 guideline which is what they currently use.
These are 3 sizing standards that manufacturers and brands use globally, including in India. Since we have no set sizing standards, brands are free to follow whichever sizing guideline they prefer. Recently however, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi under the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India has undertaken ‘Size India Project’ in order to introduce an anthropometric size chart for the Indian consumer.
Funnily enough, did you know that before the 1940s, sizing for women was only based on age, so a size 16 would be for a 16 year old. Can you imagine how a big busted girl would even fit? A mystery to me! Interestingly enough, this is the same sizing phenomenon that gave way to vanity sizing.
It’s also interesting to note that throughout the evolution of sizing guidelines, there was and is no account taken for varying heights of people. This might partially be because many countries worldwide have fairly homogenous body-types making it easier to generalise on a sizing guideline but, India hosts a highly diverse profile of body type and ethnicities (which is a prominent factor to be taken into account for fashion and how different ethnic groups have different body types) making it difficult to settle on one guideline.
This is also why fashion brands in India use multiple sizing guidelines and have converted guidelines mentioned on the clothes and also have a few homegrown sizing guidelines that they subscribe to.
The gap between body sculpting clothes and accessibility of this fashion is large. Efforts are being made by many throughout the nation to solve this and so we do too. The largest effort and project the government has undertaken is the India Size project in co-ordination with NIFT. This is the first and largest effort our nation has taken towards standard sizing in India.
It was sanctioned by the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India, under the Research and Development Scheme to develop Indian size charts based on body measurements of Indian population for better fitting of ready to wear garments. The project 'INDIAsize' plans to measure 25000 (Twenty Five Thousand) persons aged from 18 to 65 years in six different regions of India using 3D body scanners. This project was undertaken in 2020 and is an ongoing effort. Visit https://nift.ac.in/indiasize/index.html to know more about the project.
Our role in this
To bridge the gap between body sculpting clothes and you, Odd and Imperfect has developed a new sizing guideline based on surveys undertaken by us, research done at NIFT, WGSN reports, and personally being at the expense of these issues. The sizing guideline is called tall and petite where all sized clothes (XXXS – XXXXL) will have differing lengths to them accommodating for taller and shorter body sizes.
Being the first brand to have a sizing system for height, we hope that this step will not only help you find your perfect fit but also be a reminder and an effort towards height inclusivity in sizing systems.
To know more about us visit our website: https://www.theoddandimperfect.com/