Apparently only 30% of _ consumers are able to buy shoes that exactly fit their feet and 50% say they have trouble finding clothes sizes that fit, although this varies depending on the type of clothing. If deciding what sizes to provide is the task of product planning and the purpose of size design, then a country that supplies only 50% of its consumers with the right size clothing and only 30% with the right size shoes can hardly be said to be performing satisfactorily in these fields.
This was said by Genichi Taguchi -noted lean manufacturing guru- and he was talking about Japan. As much as we complain about clothing fit and sizing here, were we forced to make a guess, I think most of us would have expected that a homogeneous society like Japan would be less likely to have consumer dissatisfaction with clothing sizes. And as it turns out, they don’t. Interesting, no?
Taguchi defines sizing as a problem of variety, not quality and the issue of sizing intervals as standardization. Now, for the individual, not being able to find a shirt in the correct size is a problem of quality but if the number of sizes were increased (varieties), manufacturers would be subdividing the market into smaller segments which causes still more problems. In other words:
Increasing the number of sizes is a question of increasing the number of varieties, but it is also a measure to counter the quality problem of the loss caused by the unavailability of exact sizes. The principal aim is to solve a quality problem through market segmentation. In summary, the variety problem is to provide a wide selection of colors, patterns and sizes to meet people’s individual needs. Deciding how much demand there will be for these colors, patterns and sizes at a given price is a product planning problem.
Should I excerpt more from this book (Introduction to Quality Engineering)? It’s kind of intense but he has some interesting things to say. Or perhaps I think it is interesting as it is self serving? I don’t see any other way to meet the demand of smaller and more specialized sizing segments than to have more manufacturers -like DEs of course- producing sizing varieties specific to under served populations.
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
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