Sizing Up The Fashion Industry
Fashion industry admits clothes don’t fit real women
By: Olinka Koster
It is a conclusion that any shopper desperately scouring the rails for a flattering outfit could come to herself.
After studying the bodies of 10,000 women, researchers have discovered that the fashion industry does not make clothes to fit.
Four in ten women were unable to find designs to match their body shape.
Those aged between 19 and 30 had the hardest time finding the perfect fit – mainly because their choices were either too small or too tight.
Last night Spanish fashion retailers, which have become a major presence on Britain’s high streets in recent years, vowed to do better.
The owners of stores such as Zara and Mango agreed to sit down with their government to devise a new set of measurements to help women find their exact size.
Efforts will also be made to standardize sizes across the industry, to put an end to the ‘size lottery’ that many women experience when shopping in a variety of stores.
‘You never know what size you are,’ said one woman shopping in Zara. ‘Here I’m one size and next door I’m another.
It makes shopping a pain. In the Spantowns 16 is the average dress size of women in a British study, the largest of its kind, full body laser scans were taken of thousands of women and the resulting three-dimensional measurements compared with clothes available on the high street.
It found women had three body types.
The first was the ‘cylinder’ in which the top, middle and bottom were broadly aligned, the second was the ‘hourglass’ and the third was the ‘pearshape’.
About a third of women fell into the final category, but the designs available in stores did not always take this into account.
The Spanish authorities now plan to abolish European dress sizes such as 36, 38, 40 and 42 – which have become an increasingly common feature on clothes labels in Britain. These are roughly equivalent to the British sizes 8, 10, 12 and 14.
The new sizes will have separate height, hip, waist and breast measurements.
If successful, Spanish ministers hope the system will be adopted as standard by all European Union countries. Other Spanish shops in London and other include Massimo Dutti, Camper and Hoss Intropia.
As well as sizing problems, the study pointed to some worrying trends.
The overwhelming majority of women classified as being excessively thin reported that they were ‘satisfied’ with their bodies.
This included 70 per cent of those who were severely underweight.
Those aged between 16 and 19 were found to be the least happy with their figures, despite having generally low obesity levels.
Spanish health minister Bernat Soria declared: ‘These women need help to deal with their situation.’ The Spanish government and its regional authorities are alarmed by the rise in eating disorders, placing the issue at the top of the national agenda. They have asked high street fashion chains to stop using unrealistically thin shop mannequins, which they believe contribute to an unhealthy body ideal.
The health ministry has also shut down websites that promote anorexia. One had been running a competition in which girls gained more points the fewer calories they ate.
Spain, Italy and Brazil have also banned extremely skinny models from catwalks.
In 2006 organizers of Madrid Fashion Week barred those with a BMI of less than 18 from taking part in order to project ‘an image of beauty and health’.
The same rule does not apply to London Fashion Week, where organizers have said they are not convinced BMI is a useful measure to identify those with eating disorders.