Mindreading: a fitting lament of good, cheap and fast.

same_dress_different_sizes_smThere are many occasions in which I don’t publish a post because I can’t think of a title to reflect it. As this is one such post, your titling suggestions are appreciated.

So -I’m speaking to a caller this morning. She’s upset because the pattern makers she’s hired cannot fit a child’s size 6 dress to meet her expectations.  She also said something to the effect that it seemed that the pattern makers expected her to find a child fit model to put the dresses on, fit them and then get back to the pattern maker with any needed changes -and she said “As if .  What do they think I’m paying them for?” She said that the pattern makers were out of line because she didn’t have a size 6 child to fit it on and that it was unreasonable for them to expect her to advertise, interview and hire a fit model and she sure didn’t have the time.

Being in the throes of task avoidance, I gently explained that fit is subjective; it is largely in the eye of the beholder and pattern makers cannot guess what a client has in mind. I described to her, the image you see at right.  Pictured are two celebrities wearing the very same dress to very different effect (larger version). A pattern maker cannot read someone’s mind to know the fit a client has imagined.

If you have similar expectations, there are at least two blocks to getting what you want.

First, there is no such thing as a standard size in apparel. For car tires, computer memory slots and battery compartments, sure. But not clothes.

Second, fit is subjective. One person’s idea of good fit is an anathema to another -case in point, the image above right.  Fitting specifications for car tires, computer memory slots and battery compartments, are not subjective because over or under sizing the area would create product failure.

Were I to wave my magic wand and miraculously graft into everyone’s mind the components of [what I think is] good fit, it would remain an impossibility for a pattern maker to cut a pattern to one’s expectations because people -unlike cars, memory chips and batteries- are not standard sizes. No, people stubbornly persist in being born a variety of sizes and shapes and once born and mature, persist in being thinner or heavier, or shorter or taller than other people their age.

Now, as to expecting a pattern maker to do fittings on live bodies for a customer -this is also unlikely unless one gets very very lucky. Namely, a pattern maker happens to have a body on hand that is the exact size and shape a customer has in mind. Most of the time, one does not. So, for a pattern maker to fit on a live body, they would have to advertise, interview and hire a fit model -which is precisely what the customer would have to do. This particular customer then contradicted herself by saying that she had a lot of dress forms of various sizes (implied that pattern makers should too) but that dress forms were too wide and flat as compared to people’s bodies and that things never looked the same on forms as in real life.

I understand that a customer may have limited time but there are some things you must find the time to do. If you absolutely cannot find the time, you must have the money to buy someone else’s time to do it for you -and most people don’t have that either. For a pattern maker to fit on a live body for you, they will have to charge you for the time they spend advertising, interviewing and measuring prospects. There is more potential for less than efficient use of expense money because there is a risk that the pattern maker will select a body a customer doesn’t like so the process begins anew.

As an aside, the axiom of product engineering you see at right bears reminding. You can pick any two but not three. If you want good and fast, it won’t be cheap. If you want cheap and fast, it won’t be good. If you want good and cheap, it won’t be fast. The latter is most important for us because most smaller companies don’t have a lot of money but they also want nice stuff. If that’s the case, it won’t be fast. It will never be fast. The only way you can make it fast-er is to pick up some of the load yourself -so if you don’t have the time… it’s going to be difficult to find anyone to help you because don’t forget, you also don’t have much money and we can’t read your mind to know what you think is good.

Class dismissed.

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