Shrinkage and fit

It occurred to me that a facet of best practices of apparel manufacturing could be construed by consumers as vanity sizing. Specifically, I’m referring to the practice of cutting for shrinkage because best practices dictate that you’d cut a different pattern for each fabric color way if the degree of shrinkage is not uniform -which is usually the case- between color ways. Now while it is true that many manufacturers will then pre-launder the styles before shipping, the full measure of shrinkage is usually not realized with the pre-wash. Therefore, when consumers try on identical goods of differing color ways from the same manufacturer, each clothing item will not fit the same although it would after having been laundered several times. In this environment, I can see how a consumer would question the integrity of a manufacturer’s sizing standard. Similarly, consumers are unaware of cutting for shrinkage and are less likely to account for it when making clothing decisions.

I think the biggest problem here is really a failure to communicate on the part of manufacturers. Manufacturers should make more of an effort to convey the anticipated shrinkage of a garment -specific to each color way- on hang tags. I believe consumer dissatisfaction could be reduced markedly were manufacturers to itemize that a given style was designed to fit a body of x dimensions. Existing research has shown that consumers are not as distressed by variations in sizing across manufacturers as they are by a failure to detail the differences on hang tags. Were manufacturers to spell out that their size 10 fit a body with x dimensions, consumers could then move on to the size 10 that more closely resembled their figure type.

Please refer to the other articles in this series which offer substantive supporting material. Add to the discussion rather than backtracking to topics discussed elsewhere. It is likely that the exceptions you’ve thought of have been dissected in depth. For your convenience, links open in a new window or tab.

The Myth of Vanity Sizing
Fit and Sizing Entropy
Push manufacturing; subverting the fit feedback loop
Sizing evolution
Shrinkage and fit
Alternatives in Women’s sizing
Tyranny of tiny sizes?
The history of women’s sizing pt 1
The history of women’s sizing pt 2
The history of women’s sizing pt 3
Sizing is a variety problem
The birth of size 10?
Vanity sizing shoes
Tyranny of tiny sizes pt.2
Vanity sizing: generational edition
Vanity sizing: generational edition pt.2
Vanity sizing: the consumer spending edition

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  1. Josh says:

    This is something I have pondered a lot. One of the things I want on my clothing website is a detailed explanation about how the clothes will fit you.

  2. Alternatives in women’s sizing

    In my continuing series discussing fit and apparel sizing see #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6; I’ve failed to explain how sizing determinations are made, how standards are drawn followed by industry application. In this post I’ll explain how survey…

  3. Fit and sizing entropy

    When I said I could write an entire book about why vanity sizing was a myth, I was exaggerating only slightly. What I should have said was I could write an entire book about why clothing fits so poorly and…

  4. Push manufacturing; subverting the fit feedback loop

    “Push” manufacturing can be described as producing an entire line of products without pre-selling and taking orders for it. This means making up a bunch of stuff without knowing if anybody wants it beforehand. In my opinion, push manufacturing is…

  5. Serena says:

    Hi Kathleen! Here you suggest that a manufacturer detail the body dimensions on the hang tag for each size. However, you’ve written many times that a DE should closely guard the fit-model measurements. How do you account for both suggestions?

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