Mastering the intricate skill of sizing has always posed a challenge to the Indian fashion industry. With over 1.2 billion people living across 29 states, each having diverse cultural and occupational backgrounds, it is no wonder that the market has struggled on fit and form.
A large number of returns ranging from 20% to 40% are reported when shoppers face difficulty in finding clothing that is in accordance with their body measurements and anthropometric built. The rate has only been going up with the advent of e-commerce and has been contributing to the downsizing of retail. Till date, 16 countries in collaboration with their government, the industry and academia, have undertaken national sizing surveys to better cater to their demographics.
National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi, a premier fashion institute under the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India is undertaking a scientific study in order to introduce an anthropometric size chart for the Indian consumer. This comprehensive exercise will involve a sample population of 25000 Indians within the age group of 15 to 65 years across 6 states to create a database of measurements.
Proposed by NIFT in 2006, the project has finally seen the light of day under the reigns of Smriti Irani, Textiles Minister in the Government of India. The INR 30 crore project, which would take a period of two years, is in collaboration with the Ministry of Textiles that is funding INR 21 crore for the endeavor with NIFT contributing INR 9.3 crores.
In the present day scenario, there are no set standards for the Indian version of sizing – the Indian fashion industry has been implementing standard US and UK size charts to construct their clothing with minor tweaking specific to and to address their clientele. The absence of a standardized size chart is posing as a big hindrance in the domestic fashion and textile industry which is projected to touch USD 123 billion by 2021.
To counter this, the India Size Project will deploy three automated 3D whole body scanners across New Delhi (North) , Mumbai (West) , Kolkata (East) , Hyderabad (Centre) , Bengaluru (South) and Shillong (North East), along with festival grounds and adjoining rural areas. These human-friendly scanners are enabled to extract highly accurate 3D full body maps in less than 10 seconds, thereby reducing the strenuous amount of time required to compile anthropometric surveys.
Weighing 200 kg each, these scanners will analyze 120 body measurements besides the height, bust size, waist size, hip girth, neck girth, wrist size, and arm length.
The measurements will be categorized into a standardized size chart that would be presented in a numerical value and would be in accordance with ISO standards to ensure its relevance to the domestic as well as the international market. The anthropometric size chart would ring true for multiple end users with the database being relevant for any ergonomically driven work environment.
Rajesh V. Shah, Chairman of the Board of Governors at NIFT added, “The Size India Project is a revolutionary project which when successfully implied would have a huge impact on not only the apparel sector but also other ergonomically led industries such as automotive and furniture”
It is no surprise that India is varied and diverse in terms of its backgrounds and beliefs so the main challenge the project would have to deal with is convincing the sample population to volunteer for the exercise. An accurate scan demands minimal clothing on the human body once the person enters the 3D scanning machine. Keeping in mind the mindset of people belonging to rural communities, NIFT has proposed fitted body suits to be made available at the time of scanning.
The data will be collected in a dotted format, technically labelled as a ‘cloud form’, in which the face of the person is not stored. The point cloud data will be extracted over government approved cloud service platforms to ensure confidentiality and privacy.
The first size chart is expected to come out by 2021, which can later be revised, tweaked and customized in accordance with different brands and companies. Revision is done for validation over a period of years with a smaller sample size than the initial.
The size chart thus procured aids the industry in a wide gamut of ways. In the past few years, India has seen a rise in the number of emerging homegrown brands. Exporters that were performing extremely well decided to enter the domestic market by launching their own brands but failed at the sizing aspect. For instance, an exporter who was majorly catering to the US market, had their set ups and employees comfortable working with US size charts which when implemented for their domestic brands, resulted in a bad response.
In another instance, customers avoid certain brands because of ill-fit garments. The Size India Project chart aims to replace the current scenario of sizing to address the problem of returns and loss of sale.
The concept also entails increased business for International brands that enter the domestic market as they would be able to better cater to the Indian consumer.
Sunil Sethi, Member, Board of Governors at NIFT, concluded saying, “Size India Project would aid in reducing wastage and loss of sale for the organized textile sector. Mass manufacturing will benefit as tailoring becomes the next luxury with adapted sizes. This would prove to be a boom for not only the apparel sector, but the Indian consumer as well, who is going to purchasing more as his/her disposable income grows.”
Size India would serve as a reference for domestic brands and mass retailers who will have standard patterns ready for customers. Only slight tweaking would be necessary, if at all, as per a customers taste. Time and effort will be saved and delivery periods will be cut down drastically.