The dumbing down of FIT
Just when you thought it couldn't get worse..........This past Wednesday's Wall Street Journal had a really interesting article on the sizing in clothing today. Here are a few quotes:
"..."Alpha sizing", the industry term for a simplified apparel-sizing system where two numerical sizes, like 6 and 8 are combined to form an alpha size like Small or S."
It seems the "relaxed" styles, aka sloppy, that are trending right now have been contributing to this phenomenon. Items with stretch built in (everything?) also are more likely to come in alpha sizes. But the Journal also notes that more traditional items like bras, blazers and pants are getting "Alphasized" ( my word ) as well.
How does alpha sizing affect you? Here's another Journal quote, "The difference between a Small and Medium might be 2 inches, 2 1/2 inches, or for some brands, even 3 inches. By contrast, the difference between each numeric size, from 0-10, s typically 1 inch." Now add that fact to this one: "Women typically have a size the they feel is their size. More than half will walk away without buying if their size doesn't fit rather than try a larger size." See where we are going here? Isn't it always about the bottom line, the almighty dollar?
So, here I am in Macy's looking at jackets. I usually take a 4 or 6. But all I am finding is Small or S. Dang, the shoulders hang off, the jacket just does not fit like my size 4 or 6. What no Extra Small? Mediums are way too big. Now I walk away. But that is me and more than likely you, too. We know what good fit is. We don't' always achieve it but we get a lot closer than what is in RTW, and now you know one of the reasons. But what about those who don't sew? That is where vanity steps in and the manufacturer wins. Back to the store, but let's make believe I don't sew. I just need a summer jacket. I always take a size 4 or 6. Hmmm, all they have are Smalls and Mediums. I try them on. The Medium is huge. The Small is kinda big too. But it's a Small. It must be the right fit. A 4 or 6 is Small. I look around. Most of the people I see are pretty casually dressed. They look good, as in good enough. My jacket looks good as in good enough and it is a Small so it must be the right size. I plunk down my plastic and am out of there with a new jacket. Now I will contribute to the slovenly masses walking the streets without a clue about fit. I think you are getting my view point here.
Why is this happening, other than the fact the most of the public has no clue what decent fit is anymore? Back to our WSJ article here. "If I only have to build four sizes instead of eight, my supply chain is going to be much more efficient", says Ed Gribbin, president of a company called Alvanon. More efficiency, more profit! Once again good fashion is hijacked for margin. Chiching!
Here's another illuminating fact per the Journal. There is a lack of consistency in this alpha sizing. "Not all brands combine the same two numbers for their alpha sizes." It seems that in women's wear a small is a size 6 and 8 for 2/3rds of manufacturers. For the remaining third of manufacturers a small is a size 4 and 6. I think at this point, as I am standing in my imaginary Macy's I start to spin and shriek. WTF size do I wear???
OK, back to sewing. We have the power and don't ever underestimate that. First, I feel really good that no one is pulling this crap on me. I'll make my own jacket, thank you very much. I feel good that I am not contributing to the already disgusting margins being made by clothing manufacturers on the backs of the poor and desperate. I don't want to contribute to Mr. Gribbin's margins. I just want to wear a nice piece of clothing that fits me to the point that it makes me look better than what I can pick up in RTW. I am lucky to sew and I am blessed to know how to sew. No one's pulling this crap on me!
I really do think that the state of fashion for the masses has really gotten out of control at this point. Let's do everything we can to teach others our skills. Let's not support the manufacturing of garbage on the backs of others. And let's stop all this sloppy clothing that is so pervasive. If you are a newbie to sewing and not sure what good fit is other than being comfortable, I have a great resource for you. Here is a link to a standards book written by the Professional Association of Custom Clothiers. On page 22 is the beginning of their "Quality Standards for Fit". I think this should be on every sewist's bulletin board for reference. We take so much for granted and this information is so necessary to your development of quality sewing, garments that really look good on you.
My two cameras have both gone on to camera heaven. I am just lost without a camera and have been researching repair or getting a new one. I may get a cheapy to get me through until I can afford a really nice DSLR like I used to have. In the meantime, I have a few subjects to get on my soapbox about, so even without pics, I can guarantee the blog won't be boring. I hope you enjoyed this post.
So many of you have asked "when are you going to start your jacket?" I have a lovely lavender and black wool boucle that I want to use for a Chanel jacket but right now the prospect of playing with dark wool really is not inviting. I have also wanted to make my next jacket out of a blue and white sort of boucle. We are talkiing medium to light blue, sort of like faded jeans. I could not find what I wanted through Linton. I have also searched some other vendors but no luck. Today I called Banksville and they say they don't have a lot of blues but will send me some samples. They are on their way and I can't wait to see them. I am not a hundred percent on the actual style of the jacket, either. I am thinking something with a collar and buttonholes. We'll see. I certainly was inspired by the jackets Claire showed us. The styles were so varied. I was really surprised by that. I also will try to build some shape into the jacket, the way Claire taught us. So I will keep you posted but for the moment I have a big pile of fabrics, great ones for summer, all pretreated and ready to go for summer garments. Since our season is rather short, that is my priority. Plus, I love to sew linens and nice cottons so I will keep you posted. Happy sewing...........Bunny