Japanese dress forms

In a comment she left, Valerie gives me the perfect opening for a topic I’ve been wanting to write about:

I agree with all you’ve said about sleeves and other fitting issues. I draped a muslin and tried it on an elderly client last year. After much tweaking to her contours, the armholes and sleeves turned out just like your illustrations [in the book]!…Back to the sleeve and armhole issue- is there a dress form that represents that shape?

According to information that Helen Darmara sent me, it appears there just may be. Helen said she researched the Bunka dress form “and found an interesting article on how the ‘new body’ was measured and developed”. Bunka is better known in the US as a Japanese pattern and fashion magazine publisher but the company got its start (and remains) as a fashion college. I guess the magazines and books were a necessary consequence in the development of material for the curriculumn. It was in collaboration with Bunka that the Digital Human Laboratory (under the auspices of AIST-Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan) developed a new form. The details shown on the site are fascinating. Armhole shaping is the least of it. Below is an illustration of a comparison of two forms. On the left is the new Japanese form. On the right, a traditional dress form.

For comparison and analysis, see below. The superimposed markings to illustrate basic shape on the armhole comparisons are mine. You’ll note the Japanese armhole shape is a wonky triangle, favoring the front (your arms are hanging off the front of your body). The traditional form shows the armholes as a crude rectangle at the side of your body.

The researchers (Kouchi, Mochimaru and Ito) used a body scanner to derive the points of measure. The above is somewhat similar to a draft from a German pattern book I have, written well before computing and scanning was possible.

I was sure I’d written more about the shaping and drafting of sleeves in Japanese texts but I can’t seem to find it now.

Locating an available form for purchase seems to be difficult. According to a passage in Clothing Appearance and Fit: Science and Technology, Japanese company Taninaka provides information on the web but now refuses to sell the dress form overseas. How odd. I can’t find a reference to the company at all.

The link Helen sent can send you off on all kinds of rabbit trails, very interesting stuff. For example, this links to  Japanese Body Dimension Data and the Human Body Properties Database. I haven’t fully explored the latter but the former is claimed to be available for certain non-commercial parties, provided one is writing about it. As such, I mailed the required signed NDA affidavit to Japan. I heard back from Masaaki Mochimaru who wanted me to verify my non-commercial usage with which I complied and sent URLS typical of my interest in such matters. I further reiterated I don’t share proprietary databases with any of you (and don’t you know it!) but I’ve yet to receive a response to my email as of this morning. Perhaps it’s gatekeeping; I don’t qualify not being a professor or researcher at an accredited institution. Annoying. If I were an academic, I wouldn’t have time to disseminate information to the similarly disenfranchised and most likely end users.

The Japanese Data set is small, a sampling of only 300 respondents but I imagine the study is of very high quality considering the intellectual rigor of the researchers. Grace has expressed an interest in formulating regression analysis which might not be necessary considering the aforementioned intellectual rigor but still, I would be interested in her conclusions.

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