Why they aren't one and the same?
Well, in a perfect world, size and fit would be mutually inclusive.
They'd perfectly align every time.
We would have a size that we could identify with and be able to use, getting a perfect fit every, single, time... ah how nice would that be.
Sounds like a fairytale right?
Well it might as well be.
Unfortunately, as we all know, that is not the reality of the world we live in today.
As a maker, I have spent countless hours over the years navigating the minefield that is Australian Standard Sizes for women... of which, to be honest, doesn't exist.
So why is this?
Why as consumers is it so hard to understand our size? and how as makers, can we close the gap between size and *actual* fit?
Identifying the size v's fit gap.
Well, to be honest [and in my humble opinion] it's about what we have been told is our sizes [over many years], as apposed to what we *actually* are.
Most makers / manufactures [especially those in the fast fashion world] determine a size range on a calculated measure. The *perfect* size model [whatever that is] and then calculate a scale from that *perfect* size across all sizes.
They then call it a day and go on selling their new product.
Sounds pretty good in theory, right?
But, as we all know, increasing a pattern by a calculated percentage is not reflective on how bodies actually work.
Just because a person is a size down, doesn't mean they'll be shorter. No more than if a person was a size up, they don't miraculously grow longer arms.
But when you scale a pattern at an overall percentage, this exactly what increases. Everything, and everything doesn't reflect everyone.
THIS is where I believe lies the biggest problem in the size v's fit gap.
This perpetuated cycle of size dictation compared to actual fit.
So, as a Maker or Manufacture whats the answer?
Test, data, test, feedback, test, data... and so on and so on...
When I designed my own legging cuts, there was NO template.
[Because unless you purchase the rights to a pattern cut, it's totally against copy right to use for commercial purposes].
So instead, I drafted my first ever legging cut to fit me.
I knew if I could at least get it to fit me comfortably, then I'd be able to use this as a template for all sizes.
Ah uh, but here in lies the difference...
I didn't just calculate a scale up and then sell. I sent them to testers.
I then tweak each size to fit based on FEEDBACK!
Yep, that key word... feedback!
So I go back to my comment...
"Test, data, test, feedback, test, data... and so on and so on..."
I find this such a surprise that manufacturers / makers don't think this is a necessary model for their business.
I didn't sell my first handmade pair of leggings until I had each and every one of my sizes, tested, tested again, collected more data, until I was happy and my testers were happy with the result.
Perfection doesn't exist but surely we can get bloody close.
Now, I'm not going to pretend that a Zonkt pair of leggings are pure perfection and will fit everyone body shape perfectly.
Of course not. That would be unethical in my book, but can we get close? Abso-bloody-lutely!
Of course we can! We can always strive to do better, to improve, to be diverse in our offerings and align our customers needs to our products.
Because, I mean are't *you* as the consumer the reason we have a business at all??? - [like, deh!]
So yes, absolutely feedback on sizes and fit should be in every business model.
But I don't believe feedback or product evolution is isolated.
It's not a "we did it once" and call it a day. It should be something we looking at ALL . THE . TIME.
I'm not going to deny this could well be my *Business Improvement Manger* hat from my past work life rearing its head. But I know I wouldn't be able to sleep at night soundly knowing I could do something better.
I guess as a brand, we have always continued to evolve, to continually improve [although that term makes me cringe... it gets thrown around so often with not validity] when it comes to our fit, especially from where we started.
Just recently the process of increasing our size range broadened my knowledge when it came to our legging fit.
I mean, I was aware [and familiar from my own experiences] of the common issue, but it wasn't until I delved into this specific process that I started to really understand the importance of... Height!
Height plays a large part in a garments fit. But it becomes increasing evident in a fitted garments, such as a pair of leggings.
You can have two size larges. One size large can fit perfectly. Because they're 5.8 / 5.9ft. Which is what the leggings have been typically designed to fit.
Then you have the other size large. The leggings fit fine around the hips and waist, but behind the knee they're all baggy and there's a bunch of excess fabric around the ankle. Their height is 5.4ft.
Now, I'm 5.5ft [168cm] so I am more than familiar with this experience [many upped hems in my day] and I have had many customers ordering our 7/8th because at least they end up at the perfect 5.4ft height for them.
But again, us tailoring something to fit us instead of have a choice to purchase something that already should.
I could definitely go into the in's and outs of how I defined my height options.
It involves knee placement, femur length and the plethora of data I collected and have mulled over since. But I won't bore you [even though I find it all so fascinating] with the details.
In the end, it just comes down to knowledge, awareness, feedback , then mitigation.
Now we confidently offer sizing that doesn't just provide inclusivity from 90-154cm hip circumferences, but ALL those sizes inclusive of heights from 5-6ft too.
Is the effort profitable?
Does it matter?
Getting it right far out weighs having a mediocre product in my view.
Why as a maker you'd want to sell a product that doesn't make someone feel good when they wear it, is baffling to me.
I'm sure it does in the long run its profitable. It wasn't my driver, having a quality product was far more important to me. But I guess even if we look at the basics, say returns.
If something doesn't fit very well surely you're going to get a bunch of returns, that alone would be costly, right? I mean, even just administratively.
Now, I don't have ridiculously high turn-overs and am so far from a manufacturing juggernaut its humorous. But can wholeheartedly say that I have had very very few returns.
Especially in the last 4-5 years since I've been making my own handmade pieces.
I reckon I'd be hard pressed to count them all on 1 hand... and thats not a boast, or perhaps maybe it kinda is??
There are thousands of Zonkt leggings out in the world now and I put a crap load of work into the begin to get it right.
So yep, I'm going to say boast. Ha!
Whilst we're boasting it's probably why we also have such a high customer return rate too [46%]... just sayin'
Ok, boasting aside, even if it wasn't hugely profitable, surely it just falls under good ethics or at least wanting to be, for lack of a better phrase... *a good egg*
I do believe businesses have the power and responsibility to provide choice to its consumers, and that's not just associated with product fit diversity, but ethical and sustainable products and practices [but thats a WHOLE other blog post entirely].
Consumers need to take responsibility too.
Yes, for sure there is onus on the consumer, just in a different way.
As consumers we can do a few things to help close the size fit gap and one of them I refer to as, not getting into... The Gap Trap.
It's the size vs fit gap that we all get trapped into.
It relates to the first part of this blog post, about being dictated a *size* [M-L, 12-14 etc] as apposed to your actual measurements.
I bet I could ask any one of you reading this your size and you would know it of the top of your head.
But what if I asked you your waist measurements?... Hip? Bust?
How many of you would know them?
I reckon very few at all.
We get so fixated on the charts, the numbers, the letters that we try to identify with. But they fail us all the time.
How many of you have experience completely different sizes depending on the store you go to? All the time right.
But yet we still become so fixated on them... the Gap Trap!
As consumers we also need to not fall into this *gap trap*, we need to focus on our actual measurements [when it pertains to fit] and not a size label.
I mean, I have had people refuse to go a size up because it was exactly that, a size up. Completely stuck on the label and not that the measurement which defines fit.
It clearly defines the trapped we get into with the *label number* [or letter] and the stigma attached to it.
He's an example for you...
Let's look at mens pants for instances.
If you asked you male counterpart what his waist measurement was, he'd probably say 32, 34, 46, etc. Right?
Now that's their actual measurement size, in inches!... a 32 is 32 inches. Done!
How easy right.
No, we get 10-12 or 18-20 that means what exactly???
Ok, yes your right. Women sizes are a little tricker than that, there's hips, bottoms and busts.
But isn't knowing your measurements a better representation of fit for you than a size that represents, in all essences, kinda nothing?
I get asked ALL the time.
"Are your sizes the same as Kmart? I have a pair of leggings that are a XL, will your XL fit me?"
To be honestly and in the nicest way possible. I wouldn't have a clue!
There are so many factors that go into fit and sizes are extremely different across brands because we all have different pattern cuts we work from.
We also use completely different fabrics and different stitch tensions and thread and even different kinds of stitches, flat-lock v's overlock v's cover-stitch etc.
Even flex in a fabric will drastically change a size ratio [elastane % and fabric weight - GSM], as will the fabric type, cotton vs bamboo vs polyester. Weave, knit, 2 way stretch vs 4 ways stretch... I could go on!
So, assuming a generic label of an *XL* is going to be the same across brands is well impossible... I wish it wasn't but its true.
The BEST way to beat it, as a consumer... know your measurements!
So my response will always be... "What are your measurements? Review them against our table and that'll tell you your best fit."
Don't get caught in the Size Gap Trap, know your measurements it'll make shopping online SO much easier!
Support the brands that evoke change.
I could go on about this topic till I'm blue in the face, also because if anyone knows me I can talk under wet cement. But the best way to support a change is to support those making the effort to do so.
It's one thing to bitch about how something doesn't fit well and still continue to buy products thinking somehow things will change.
They won't, as a consumer you have a voice and that voice is where you choose to put your money.
Seek out the brands that are working hard to continually improve there product offerings, that listen to your feedback or even better encourage it!
Below I have a link to a survey about fit.
I created it last year when I was deep in the minefield of diversifying my size offerings, in a hopes to collect as much data as I could about our customers experience when it came to fit [completely anonymous].
Because the more I understand about everyones size the more I can continue to work in closing the gap on size and fit and maybe, one day size and fit won't be a mutually inclusive fairytale. But a reality.