IMPRESSIONS from a Cross-section

Ed Gribbin
Ed Gribbin
Alvanon Inc.

‘The most prevalent body shape among women today it is a ‘rectangle’ due to larger waists’

Company Details

Business Area:
Fit solutions


What changes do you propose to the fashion sector's product development? What are the challenges faced in the fashion business?

Women and men have changed significantly over the last 60 years in terms of body mass and shape due to a number of factors, primarily diet and lifestyle.  Fast food, conveniences like remote controls, driving rather than walking have all contributed to significant weight gain, while stature has increased only minimally, resulting in body shapes that have become straighter or less defined than they were previously. Bust, waist and hips have all increased over the years but waists have increased nearly twice as much as busts and hips. In the 1940s, the most prevalent body shape among women was the 'hourglass' shape, while today it is a 'rectangle' shape due to larger waists. Because many brands base their fit on outdated standards, they use an hourglass figure when designing and making patterns; this is a key reason why so many women complain about fit, and not being able to find clothes that fit their body shape.

There are multiple challenges for the fashion industry today but the most critical are (1) how to deal with rapidly increasing labor and commodity prices everywhere; (2) how to meet consumer expectations now that they have taken much of the control of the apparel buying process away from retailers due to new and ever-changing information and communication technologies; and (3) how to reduce time to market. Consumers are rewarding retailers and brands who get new, fresh styles to market faster and more frequently; they will punish the brands who seem stale and tired by comparison.

We think the product development process can become much faster, more accurate, and more efficient if people follow these four steps:

1. Develop initial designs, line plans and patterns in 3-D, using the latest 3-D avatars and software.
2. Deploy the proper tools --- avatars, fit forms, blocks and grade rules optimized to reflect how body shapes change throughout a size range --- to everyone involved in the product development process, both internally and externally throughout the supply chain/vendor base.
3. Provide regular, ongoing training on proper use of the tools and processes, based on global best practices.
4. Clearly define ownership, roles and responsibilities in the product development process so that both aesthetic and technical fit can be achieved with the first prototype.

- Mary Christine Joy

Published on: 28/10/2014

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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