India to soon have its own Footwear Sizing System, here’s all you need to know

By: |
February 20, 2021 6:23 PM

Md Sadiq, chief scientist at CSIR-CLRI, is of the view that it is the right time when Indians must understand the importance of right fits.

footwearThis is important as India has so far had no footwear sizing system of its own. (Representational Image)

There are many people who are often confused over the ‘EU’, ‘UK’ or ‘US’ sizes while buying shoes, especially online. In all probability, there could be a solution to this by next year as India could have its own ‘Footwear Sizing System’. This is because CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) is conducting a pan India survey of feet scanning. The data collected from this survey will be used to define footwear size standards in India. It will be then included by shoe manufacturers in their size.

This is important as India has so far had no footwear sizing system of its own. It is still following the English size introduced by the British before Independence.  Shoe manufacturers have been making footwear according to this size and mention equivalent American and European sizes. As per the UK footwear sizing system, the average Indian man wears sizes between 5 to 11 and the average woman between 4 and 6.

Indian sizing system is a prerequisite as only appropriately sized footwear can provide optimal comfort and foot health. Moreover, bad fits can lead to injuries especially in cases of diabetics, above the age of 40 years and women. As designing footwear is a complex process requiring a lot of expertise, one designed on a borrowed size may not be best suited for the Indian wearer. This is because feet characteristics of Indians are different from that of Americans or Europeans.

The characteristics of Indian feet have changed since 1969 when the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) notified the Indian Standard Specification for Sizes and Fitting of Footwear. Also, shoes have now gained popularity and importance to people. According to Dr K J Sreeram, director, CSIR-CLRI, demand for footwear too has increased since 2015.

Md Sadiq, chief scientist at CSIR-CLRI, is of the view that it is the right time when Indians must understand the importance of right fits.

However, this is not going to be an easy task considering the vastness and regional variations in India. There is a general observation that people from the Northeast have comparatively smaller feet. Also, Indians prefer a size bigger than required because they have broader feet near the toes.

3D Footwear Scanner

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under the Union Ministry of Commerce is supporting CLRI in conducting a first-of-its-kind pan Indian anthropometric survey. Apart from feet measurement, it will also include 3D foot scans. The project will begin later this year and will continue for 14 months. Data will be collected and based on that a size range for the Indian population will be established.

According to Dr Sreeram, they are planning to take the help of a network of ASHA workers to conduct this survey, which is estimated to cost Rs 11 crore. Around 1,05,000 samples will be collected from around 94 districts. 3D feet scanner machines will be used in the survey and 30 of them have been imported from Italy. The scanner can capture about 30 dimensions of the foot within just 10 seconds. CLRI has already started training its staff and those who are collaborating from institutes like the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Central Footwear Training Institute, and Footwear Design and Development Institute.

CLRI officials feel that such anthropometric surveys may be required every 7-8 years considering fast-changing lifestyles and footwear requirements. The scheme was inaugurated in January and Union Minister for Health and Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan was the first Indian to present his feet sample.

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