Spanish sizing study

If you noticed from Saturday’s edition of News From You, there was a submission from Jasmin regarding an article from the NZ Herald on the results of the recent sizing study in Spain. As I love all things sizing, I contacted the reporter to see if she could provide more details. Happily, Eveline Jenkin sent me a link to the Spanish Health Ministry but she didn’t know how useful it’d be as she said she doesn’t speak Spanish. From there, I readily found the right page which included a pdf summary of the study results.

I’ve translated the salient portions, omitting redundancies (not that there were many). Oh, one word I don’t know, “indumentaria”. Do you know what that means? Anyway, here are my notes if you’re interested in the results. Pages are numbered so you can follow along with the slides in the pdf. Most everything is illustrated with graphs so it’s not hard to follow along, particularly with the notes.

Page 2 is thanks to sponsors and the 10,415 study participants. Study error percentages, demographic detail is beyond sparse.

Introduction (pg.3): In practice, there is not an standardized sizing system. At least 40% of women have problems finding garments in their size.
46% they never have problems
13% say almost never
29% say sometimes
12% say always

Pg.4 Objectives of the project:
Determining the shape and dimensions of the typical Spanish female will permit

  • The development of a sizing standard useful to clothing designers
  • Generate information for consumer use in adapting patterns. Could also be interpreted as information consumers can use to alter clothing.

A Secondary goal promotes a view of healthy beauty

  • Permitting the appropriate design of dress forms and mannequins to reflect the population.
  • To socially promote messages of healthy beauty.

(My comment: At least in the US, the ideation of the mean body as “healthy beauty” would mean exactly the opposite. Images would represent the average but not necessarily healthy. Spain needn’t worry of this nuance; their population doesn’t have the obesity rates we do.)

Pg 5, survey respondents by 10 age groups, 12 to 70
Pg 7 breaks it down by percentage of respondents. As respondents age, the groupings of ages included, increases. In other words, 12-13 years, a spate of two years while 40-49 includes 10 years. This weighs the results oddly. All told, the 12-19 years age bracket would equal 27.5% of total respondents.
20-24 10%
25-29 10.1%
30-39 13.8%
40-49 15.7%
50-59 12.6%
60-70 10.4%

I’m not sure why they included girls so young. It kind of skews the body shape results later on.

pg.8 has a breakdown of height by age. Predictably, younger are taller. Results for difficulty of finding the right size by age is shown later on in slide 26.

pg. 9, shows progression of height increases since 1987. Edward Tufte (aka, “the DaVinci of Data”) would have a stroke if he saw this graph. Height has increased 2.5 cm (1″) over past 20 years, biggest augmentation manifest between 1987-97. Interesting. Could also be an issue of reporting and previous study resources. Spain wasn’t doing so hot twenty years ago.

pg. 10, BMI of respondents. Interestingly enough, with all the worry over young girls dieting to fashionable thinness, less than 2% of the population is unhealthily underweight. 56% is of normal weight. 24.9% is overweight (BMI 25-29.9). Morbidly obese (30-40 BMI) is 12.4%.

pg. 11. NICE (although this graph would send Tufte into a permanent coma if the first one didn’t)! BMI broken down by age! Can be summarized by saying “old and fat”. ~sigh~. This graph should be weighted by percentage of respondents too. Wouldn’t have been too hard.
pg.12 BMI for ages 12-17
pg. 13 Distribution of low BMI, ages 12-17
Note: Spain and other nations have become preoccupied with the idea that too-thin models are creating a generation of anorexics (untrue) and this graph is designed to flame the fear. Tufte’d have a fatal aneurysm with this one.
pg. 14. Bust measures by age.
pg. 15 breakdown of morphological types
36% cylinder
39% Hourglass
25% Bell

pg.16 morphology types by age, 12-18 (junior body types)
37.7% hourglass
16.4% Bell
45.9% cylinder

pg.17 morphology types by age, 19-30
33.8% hourglass
25.8% Bell
40.4% cylinder

pg.18 morphology types by age, 31-40
47.1% hourglass
22.2% Bell
30.8% cylinder

pg.19 morphology types by age, 41-50
43.7% hourglass
24.3% Bell
32.08% cylinder

pg.20 morphology types by age, 51-60
41.8% hourglass
37% Bell
21.2% cylinder

pg.21 morphology types by age, 61-70
30.2% hourglass
38.2% Bell
31.6% cylinder

pg. 22 Morphology by age graph

pg.23 (caution, this page loads slow, you’ll think there’s a program error, don’t fret) . Here’s my favorite size tag pictograph. As I’ve been suggesting forever, height is finally included.

pg.24, chart showing percentage of women satisfied with their bodies. Not sure I know what it means although by age 20-24, women’s satisfaction seems to level off until old age.

pg. 25. Interesting!!!! A graph illustrating percentage of satisfaction including BMI. It shows, perhaps not surprisingly, that the thinner a woman is, the more satisfied she is with her body. Again perhaps not surprisingly, dissatisfaction increases with weight gain. Or maybe not. There seems to be a point of resignation at “overweight” with the heaviest BMI showing “neutral” satisfaction of 18%.

pg. 26 A graph illustrating difficulty of finding the right size by age.

pg.27 Among those having difficulty finding the correct size, the reasons why respondents can’t find their size
22.8% Because it’s too large
43.4% Because it’s too small
8.2% Size sells out the fastest (an issue of supply and demand, not size)
25.6% Other reasons: the size doesn’t coincide with morphological shape.

pg. 28 Self perception of one’s health

pg.29: Summary: the results in these charts will permit (in the textile and sewing industry):
1. The better adjustment of indumentaria (I don’t know what indumentaria means.)
2. Better dress forms, mannequins, including virtual forms
3. The determination of methods to categorize clothing (shapes)
4. Framework to personalize (alter) clothing; perhaps made to measure is implied.
5. Ergonomic design of _____ work. (indumentaria)

pg.30 I guess there’s an interactive CD Rom with anthropometric data available.

pg. 31. A statement declaring that the government of Spain is in agreement with European efforts to standardize sizing.

On the Spanish Ministry of Health, there’s also a video progression of body shapes by age. It’s rather depressing…

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  1. Marie-Christine says:

    Kathleen, I disagree with not including 12-19 year olds. At 13 I was my adult size, the same I remained for decades. These days girls have their periods, and therefore reach their adult size, even earlier. Of course you might not have the same shape at 12 and at 75. But you’re adult size, and entitled to wear clothes in both cases and everything in between ;-).

  2. Alexzandra says:

    I think it’s fine to consider high schoolers as adult sized, but probably not younger than that. At 24, I am very much not the same hight or size as when I was 12 (I was a very early developer, but I also had a lot to develop). I can see why they broke the younger ages into shorter segments though, since I think that more changes occur more quickly as you’re developing.

    Also, I too love the hang tag, I wish we had more of those here. And, it would be interesting to see what a similar study of Americans would show.

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