Sizing up the global market

Association of Suppliers to the British Clothing Industry (ASBCI) recently dedicated a seminar to addressing and resolving issues relating to garment sizing and fit – ‘Sizing up the global market’. Nearly 160 delegates from across the fashion and corporate clothing sectors, attended the seminar at the Barceló Hotel in Daventry, organised in partnership with Company Clothing magazine and sizing technology specialist Alvanon.

Sizing and fit guru Ed Gribbin, president of Alvainsight, a division of Alvanon, headed an expert panel of speakers from Incorporatewear, Lectra, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), Royal Bank of Scotland & NatWest and Select Research. Together they advised delegates on how to optimise customer satisfaction and brand loyalty while reducing returns and inventory by identifying ‘consumer commonalities’, creating ‘flexible styles’ in the ‘right fabrics’ and implementing targeted and consistent sizing strategies. Furthermore delegates were shown the crucial role played by robust and process driven communication strategies within the supply-chain that includes the customer.

Keynote speaker for the day was Ed Gribbin, and draw on his sizing and fit career within both the fashion and corporate wear sectors. He explained the complex ‘emotional consumer connection’ with sizing saying: “20 per cent of fit is technical and the rest is how you communicate it” – within the supply-chain and to the consumer. He went on to say that most garment suppliers have a global consumer profile where “diversity is the reality” and there is no such thing as a “pan-European or even Asian fit.” Sizing he explained is not a simple linear issue. Rather he urged delegates to use global and local sizing survey and research data when constructing their sizing strategies within which they could identify and target crucial “consumer commonalities”.

Garment inventory is a major challenge for corporate wear suppliers and buyers. For those with large corporate purses the answer is often to waste money on it. However, for smaller budgets Richard Barnes, managing director of Select Research advised delegates to get their shape and grading right as it would reduce inventory: “Research target end-user populations as there will be differences and commonalities with specific fit characteristics. Develop an optimum range of sizes needed with grade intervals that minimize size SKUs. Once you have your size range, slap down in the middle should be your core size.” He concluded: “Then put robust tools, such as a block programme, and processes in place to make consistent execution and communication inevitable.”

Formed in 1992 the Association of Suppliers to the British Clothing Industry, the initiative plays a key technical role within the garment and textile sectors. In addition to technical conferences, forums and seminars on important issues, it organises regular technical and educational visits to companies across the supply-chain and produces acclaimed technical handbooks.

Image: ASBCI

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