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IR Smartclass: INDIAsize explained

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Shiv Joshi
Shiv Joshi
An editor with over 20 years of experience across industry verticals and content formats from tabloids to magazines, he is the Deputy Group Managing Editor at Images Group.

India will get its standard size chart like the US, UK and the EU, based on Indian body types. Learn more…

Ask fashion designers or stylists and they will tell you that looking good is not about finding the right clothes but about finding the right fit. And since mass-produced clothes have overtaken bespoke tailoring, finding perfectly fitting clothes is difficult for many. That’s because most of the ready-made garments conform to US, UK or EU sizes and Indians differ in their body type and shape from people in other countries.

Despite the Indian apparel industry having made great strides, there is no standardised ‘for India’ size chart to follow. This is about to change with INDIASize.

What is INDIASize?

In February 2019, the Union Minister for Textiles Smriti Zubin Irani launched the INDIASize project in Mumbai. The initiative aims to establish a standardized Indian Size for the ready-to-wear clothing industry, akin to the sizing standards observed in countries like the USA and the UK.

“We have been following international sizing charts all these years and every brand which is launched in India also follows their own charts. This creates disparity for the Indian consumers,” said Rahul Mehta, chief mentor at Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI), speaking about the need for such an initiative. Mehta was the body’s president and chairman when the project was launched.

By developing a size chart tailored to the measurements of Indian consumers, the project seeks to enable apparel manufacturers in India to create garments that better fit the actual body proportions of Indian customers.

“INDIASize is crucial for the Indian market. Using US or UK size charts has caused confusion due to significant differences in body types. Establishing our own size chart addresses this, catering accurately to Indian anthropometrics,” Vineet Jain, COO, V-Mart Retail Ltd. V-Mart, like several players, follows its size specifications for brands it manufactures. Other apparel it stocks are in US, UK or EU sizes as per the brands it has partnered with.

Once INDIASize is officially launched, brands intending to specifically tailor their products for the Indian customer beyond just colour and styles can adopt the same.

Spearheaded by the Ministry of Textiles, the project is being carried out in collaboration with CMAI and executed by the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT).

What was the need for such an initiative?

Standardised sizing has gained importance with people increasingly ordering apparel online. “Incorrect sizing significantly impacts business, leading to a high rate of returns, typically ranging from 20% to 40%,” said Jain adding that it also leads to dissatisfaction.

Sanjay Vakharia, chief executive officer of Spykar Lifestyles explained that having non-standard sizing creates confusion in the minds of consumers and allows unfair trade practices from scrupulous vendors who short-change consumers.

“It is one of the most awaited and needed actions for our industry. it will make our sizes standard across all categories and brands and more importantly it will bring Indian specs to the forefront,” Vakharia added.

What does the project entail?

The project involves an all-India anthropometric study of the average Indian apparel consumer. NIFT has analysed close to 25,000 consumers in the age group of 15-65 years from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Shillong using human-safe 3D whole body scanning technology.

NIFT carried out a study of 25,000 people using human-safe 3D whole body scanning technology | Source: NIFT Website

CMAI’s role is to give practical inputs and suggestions on the sizes and validate the data. A technical team formed by CMAI has been working with NIFT for the last year and a half on the same.

What’s the status?

The study is in its final stages. “The findings and recommendations have been finalised and shortly we will hopefully be able to make a formal launch so that the Indian Industry can start working on the size to make apparel garments more suited to the Indian population,” Rachna Shah, Secretary in the Ministry of Textiles, told PTI last month.

How will it impact Indian apparel businesses?

Once India has its size chart, it will put the country on par with developed countries, which typically follow a standardized size for their consumers. Currently, there are US sizes, UK sizes and Mexican sizes.

“With the launch of INDIASize project, there will be a standard size for all manufacturers,” said Mehta who is also a director of Creative Garments, a company that owns brands like 109F and Fusion Beats.

Not having a standard size leads to wastage for apparel businesses of about 30%, he said. With fits suitable for Indian sizes, this can come down to 10% to 15%, which will impact profitability and costing. “Today, we stock without really knowing the correct sizing. Once we have a better idea of the ideal sizes, the production will be monitored, and inventory as well as inventory carrying cost will come down,” explained Mehta.

Owing to its benefits, Indian apparel players like V-Mart are keen on whole-heartedly adopting the sizes.

“It will provide a standardized reference for domestic brands and mass retailers, streamlining our processes. With standard patterns readily available, minimal adjustments will be needed, if any, catering efficiently to customer preferences. This adoption will save time, and effort, and significantly reduce delivery periods,” explained Jain of V-Mart.

Furthermore, the savings will lead to a reduction in ultimate prices paid by the consumer, said the industry representatives.

How will it benefit the consumer?

Indian customers will get clothes made in sizes made just for them. In addition to better-fitting clothes, they will be spared from the hassles of returns as well as save money spent on incorrect purchases.

“From a consumer standpoint, it benefits him or her immensely as she does not second guess every brand on sizing. It makes the process of buying more seamless and enjoyable. More importantly, it gives comfort to consumers of having made the right purchase,” Vakharia said.

When will it become mainstream?

The charts are ready and will be announced once CMAI tests the same and gives us the final go-ahead.

Although the industry is keen on a standard size for India, representatives feel that adoption will take time as it requires modification of production patterns.

“It’s a matter of adoption by consumer and as well brand, which should not take than a couple of seasons,” said Jain of V-Mart.

While Vakharia of Spykar too feels it will take some seasons, Mehta feels it will take at least two years. “In the initial stages it will create more confusion for all for some time but post that it should be fine,” Vakharia said.

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