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Textiles Committee Completes Standard Plus Sizes for Women

ASTM International apparel specialists have embraced the challenge of bringing consistent sizing to women’s plus-size clothing by creating D 6960, Standard Table of Body Measurements Relating to Women’s Plus-Size Figure Type, Sizes 14W - 32W to be published later this month.

“In menswear, a man can always buy pants in his exact waist size, for example, 36 — in every brand — and he always knows what size will fit him,” said ASTM member Janet Peiler, director, quality standards, tech design and product testing, Brylane, New York, N.Y. “We should be able to accomplish this in women’s sizing as well.”

ASTM International issued standard body measurements in D 6960 that apparel professionals can reference as a baseline for female figures 14W-32W when considering fabric type, ease of body movement, styling, and fit. Peiler, who works for a subsidiary of Redcats (division of Pinault-Printemps Redoute), the third largest home-shopping catalog group in the world, said that using D 6960’s standard plus-sized body types and dimensions will set a standard for women’s plus sizes, promoting the same fit across numerous retail and catalog brands.

Consistent size and fit is imperative in a climate of popular catalog, online, or television shopping, in which consumers cannot try on clothing. As Peiler said: “Apparel customer returns will decrease if women can walk into any store, or order from any catalog, and consistently purchase the same size.”

A task group of Subcommittee D13.55 on Body Measurement for Apparel Sizing developed D 6960 under the guidelines of ASTM Committee D13 on Textiles. The group included Peiler as chairman as well as product-development managers, clothing designers, patternmakers, technical designers, university professors, scanning-technology professionals, government agency/army and navy services professionals, quality assurance managers, and representatives of laboratories and software companies specializing in apparel.

The practice of vanity sizing has contributed to the sizing nightmare. “In the wholesale/designer/retail market, there is still the belief that sizing is a part of what makes a brand different from the rest of the industry,” Peiler explained. “In addition, there is the undocumented belief that women always want to purchase a smaller number size — this thinking changed a size 12 to an 8, and a 4 to a zero! Women simply want clothing that fits, without trying on three sizes, and we are trying to recapture this reality with the new women’s plus-size standard.”

Another problem in the area of women’s plus-size apparel was the assumption that a missy pattern could simply be made bigger, without any alteration in the pattern design for larger sizes. This assumption failed to take into account that the body shape changes, along with certain body measurements. By paying closer attention to these change in body shape, manufacturers can create plus-size clothing that looks better and feels more comfortable.
During the development of D 6960, the task group reached consensus on sizing after gathering information from diverse companies and engaging in many collaborations over the course of the research. “This is how you end up with excellent industry standards,” Peiler said. “[D 6960] is, in effect, the industry’s best practices.”

Subcommittee D13.55 requests apparel designers, manufacturers, consultants, and other stakeholders from industry, government, and academia to participate in the development of future apparel body-measurement standards. “The subcommittee consists of approximately 30 active members,” said Peiler, “and we always have several guests (non-ASTM members) at our meetings as well. We encourage industry professionals to join us and share their expertise with the group — that is what makes the committee successful.”

For further technical information, contact Janet Peiler (phone: 212/613-9510). Committee D13 meets March 21-24 in Salt Lake City, Utah. For membership or meeting details, contact Len Morrissey, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9719). //

Copyright 2004, ASTM International