Adapting the ready-wear measurement tables to changes in fashion and target group requirements are a constant challenge for quality assurance.
It therefore comes as no surprise that e.g. mail-order retailers and discounters complain about a return rate of 20% and more due to poor fit and that they are demanding corrective action from their suppliers.
The reasons for these costly complaints are obvious to Stephanie Müller, expert for fitting tests at the Hohenstein Institute in Bönnigheim: ‘In reality, whether someone perceives a garment to have a proper fit depends on how it looks and feels on their body.’
These aspects are mainly influenced by the cut and the materials used. Moreover, body proportions change significantly with age: Clothes for 60-year-old women therefore have to be designed differently to those for 18-year-olds – even if these women have the same primary body measurements or dress sizes! Clothing design should take the age-related changes into account accordingly.
Designing plus-size fashion is particularly challenging. It, too, requires the changing proportions to be taken into account in order to offer perfect fit across all dress sizes. The creation of patterns and the resulting ready-wear measurements alone do not provide any evaluation of proper fit. Neither do comparing garment measurements to the values from ready-wear measurement tables allow any judgement of how good the fit is for the intended target group.
For Stephanie Müller, the principle for the route to lower return rates and increased customer satisfaction is therefore: ‘People rather than dummies.’ She and her team use a database of around 250 people from all age groups and body types for the fitting tests.
The fitting tests for the garments are then carried out on the ‘fitting’ test subjects from the group. Their body measurements correspond to the age values for the target group and to the data for the dress size to be tested or for the described body contours.
This allows fashion for 60-year-olds or plus-sizes to actually be worn by test subjects with the corresponding age or the defined body type. The fit of these garments is then evaluated by experienced garment technicians at the Hohenstein Institute.
Valuable information from the test subjects about any ‘niggles and twinges’ provides important pointers for optimising the individual garments, but primarily for the underlying design.
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