Sizing it up for Indians

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 13 Jun 2018 12:43:24

Trying to find a dress in the right size, whether online or during mad rushes in changing rooms, is often a daunting task. More so for Indians, who have to refer to UK and US charts for their sizes. The discrepancies between these size guides – a UK size 10 is the same as US size 6, for instance – may throw some light on how body types vary according to ethnicity. Yet, there exists no size chart that caters to the Indian body type.

As a result, Indian consumers often find it difficult to fit into clothes made for taller or leaner structures. A common problem women in India face with dresses is that when the bust is well fitting, the hemline tends to be longer than expected. The breadth of shoulders is yet another issue that adds to changing room woes. It is to bring all such sizing problems to an end that the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and Ministry of Textiles have joined hands to create a size guide specific to Indians.

Following the example of 14 other countries that have all taken up national sizing surveys, NIFT will be recording the measurements of 2,500 people in the age group of 15 to 65 across six major cities. These measurements will be taken with the help of 3D body scanners, without making physical contact with the bodies of the respondents. The subjects of the survey will be given a special upper and lower garment to wear, that they can keep after the scan, in order to ensure they are completely covered. It is from this data pool that various body types will be analysed to make India’s first size chart.

According to Noopur Anand, Professor at NIFT and Principal Investigator of the National Sizing Survey Project, creating a standard chart is only the first step and there are endless possibilities. “Once we have the data, we can play around with it and focus on a size guide for kids or on a size chart for the tall. For now, we’re focused on creating an Indian size chart by the end of three years. The sizing survey is an ongoing process that will need constant upgrading and innovation, so we'll work on it,” explains Anand.

Designers Speak

Narendra Kumar

“In Indian design schools, most of the size charts are drawn from American sizes. So the fit becomes a real issue when it comes to Indian markets. The bodies of Indian women are curvier than American and European women, so clothes have to be designed accordingly. Moreover, bodies of models walking the ramp are not similar to actual Indian bodies. They are based on American body types whereas Indians have an Asian body type. So once the size chart is in place, designers have to see how to work around it.”

Wendell Rodricks

“We have a different body type as compared to US, UK and Europe, so we cannot use their size charts, nor can we use Chinese or Far Eastern charts for India. The biggest challenge for a size chart is catering to the regional differences in body types. I created a size chart that was made public at Lakme Fashion Week 2016; a region does not really define a size. Different women from different regions will fit into a standard size that suits them the best.”  

Nandita Mahtani

“Most brands follow either the US or UK size charts, or come up with their own charts. This means that the consumer has to figure out their size for each brand and designer, which is an absolute nightmare.  Every designer struggles with alterations, so a size guide that is more suited to the Indian body type will definitely reduce the work that goes into fittings. My signature label for resort and cocktail wear is designed broadly keeping in mind the Indian body type but the clothes are universal, easy-to-wear silhouettes that would suit most types of women.”