A standardised size chart for clothing, being worked on by the ministry of textiles and the National Institute of Fashion Technology, will soon help Indians find the right fit
Getting the right fit in clothes has always been an issue for most Indians. Either you visit an excellent tailor to get that perfect-fitting pair or compromise on a UK-12 or US-14 size. All these years, alteration in clothes has been a common phenomenon, but have we ever realised the need for a size that fits the Indian body type?
The India size survey, titled INDIAsize, has a solution. It proposes a standardised size chart in ready-to-wear clothing in which 60-70% of the population will find the right fit, up from the current 30-40%. This is a joint initiative of the ministry of textiles and the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT). The massive national sizing survey will create an anthropometric database of measurements for Indians, which will further help boost the retail garment industry. The project, earlier announced in February 2019, got delayed due to the pandemic.
Nevertheless, the survey will result in the creation of a size identification number for a customer through mapping, categorisation and defining the body size and type. It captures more than 100 anthropometric data points and elements, including height, weight, waist size, hip size, bust size, wrist measurement, etc. “This survey will help manufacturers produce goods suited for the body size of the target consumer and help consumers identify sizes best suited for them. The findings will also have applications across various other industries where the insights from this data can produce ergonomically-designed products well-suited for the Indian population,” says Upendra Prasad Singh (IAS), secretary, textiles.
In India, most homegrown brands adopt US/UK size charts, while international brands sell their global sizes. Until now, India was using international sizes, but they don’t fit everyone well. “If you ask somebody their size, they will give different sizes for different brands, so what we are looking at is to have a numeric value, which I can pick up from anywhere in the world,” says Noopur Anand, professor and principal investigator of the project.
“This project will not only create an internationally-recognised standardised apparel size for the Indian consumer and global fashion industry, but will also improve the fit of garments for enhanced comfort and aesthetics among Indian buyers, as well as benefit other related Indian industries to develop better-designed products for consumers. Now, the focus will be on the right-fit clothes,” says Anand.
The project, approved by the Government of India and supported by industry consortium Clothing Manufacturers Association Of India (CMAI)—the pioneer and most representative association of the Indian apparel industry—entails measuring more than 25,000 people in the age group of 15-65 years in six cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Shillong) located in six regions of India, using non-contact human-safe 3D body scanning technology.
While all safety protocols during the pandemic have been kept in mind, the scanned suit is unique to each person scanned at the machine. “This is a scientific exercise where anthropometric data is collected from a sample population, using human-safe 3D whole-body scanner technology to create a standardised size chart. This will follow all international protocols of national sizing survey and will be a true representative of the Indian population, which can then be adopted by the apparel industry,” says Shantmanu, director general, NIFT. Since July 2021, NIFT Delhi has collected data of over 5,000 samples as part of the first leg of the data collection. The ongoing study includes representation from various age groups, income index, and origin to collate a standard size chart.
The survey is being carried out with the support of Design Smith and the venue for scanning is Select Citywalk in New Delhi, where a kiosk has been set up for people to experiment with a 3D body scanner. “The initiative will provide better fits and understanding of Indian dressing sizes against global standards like US and UK sizing,” says Yogeshwar Sharma, executive director and CEO, Select Infrastructure, which has Select Citywalk as the group’s flagship project.