Why Size India makes sense
In a market full of international sizes, finding the right fit is most challenging for the average Indian consumer. However, Smriti Irani seems to have found a solution to this dilemma. Launching the ‘Size India’ project during the Textile Conclave at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, the Union textiles minister announced that the Indian garment industry would soon get a country-specific apparel size.
The announcement has been welcomed by the Indian design fraternity. In addition to feeling that the indigenisation of sizes would bolster the growth the Indian fashion market, the general sentiment was that it was high time we officially got our measurements in place.
Smriti Irani pointed out that in the apparel export segment, one of the biggest challenges was that the prevailing UK, US, and European size charts didn’t match Indian sizes. It is another matter that India being a huge country, with different body sizes, would require an extensive size-chart to cater to different regions.
In concurrence, veteran designer, Ritu Kumar says, “The project may be a good idea for the India fashion fraternity. Yes, Indian specifications and measurements are certainly different and we need charts which may even have to give different specifications for different parts of the country.”
Most designers feel this is a good move because this conversion of sizes created a lot of confusion, but they also wished for the existing standards of measurements in looms should be changed.
Senior designer Rina Dhaka explains, “We usually take clients’ measurements according to the US or UK size charts and covert them to the Indian scale before creating garments. For online buyers and NRI audience, a well-developed system for measurement in Indian wear would be a great move because it will reduce the alterations and returns due to ill-fitted sizes.”
Pointing out that most Indian women have narrow shoulders and bigger hips, making for a pear body type, she explains, “Then there is the apple body type and the ruler category for straight bodies. Sometimes altering the garment is as costly as creating a new one, so I hope they consider all these factors while charting out a new size system. I also feel the standard sari size in looms should also be changed because right now it’s made as a free size that is worn by all sizes of women. Ideally, smaller women do not need 6 yards of fabric because they can easily fit into a lesser size.”
Designer Jenjum Gadi’s concern on the other hand, is that while the size charts are being created for Indian buyers, the North East sizes shouldn’t be left out of the exercise.
He says, “It’s a good move by the textile ministry to finally introduce Indian sizes for measurements, but in India, different regions have different body types so it will be a big task. While North Indian and South Indian body types are very different, one has to keep in mind that the people from North Eastern states wouldn’t fit either of the two. They would need an entirely different scale, and I feel the project shouldn’t ignore them.”
Given the recent e-commerce boom in the apparel segment, an official Indian size system is the need of the hour. Designer Charu Parashar reasons, “For designers who wish to expand their business overseas as well as in domestic market via online channels, this would make things easy to reach out to a consumer who cannot meet the designer face-to-face. From the UK, US, Europe to China, Korea and Japan, there are very many countries that follow their own size system. It will not only help Indian customers make an informed choice but will also lead to more awareness about dressing up in the right size. In US sizes there are a number of variations – from zero to 16 which includes extra small to extra large; similarly, for India, we will need an elaborate chart system so that every region can be a part of it.”
Not just local designers, but even the Indian retail industry feel that the recent announcement by the Union textiles minister is a step in the right direction, believes Poornima Vardhan, founder of luxury brand 335TH.
She points out, “With India’s domestic apparel market size expected to grow at 11-12 per cent CAGR and reach about USD160 billion by 2025, the Indian standard size will help designers especially in the digital economy to create better fitted off-the-shelf clothing, thereby reducing returns and also additional tailoring/altering costs. Currently, India follows the UK body measurements. However, the Indian body type is vastly different from the UK standard. Indians are petite and shorter than our UK counterparts. Thus, the Indian standard size, if implemented accurately, will not only help designers across the world to customise better fits for Indians but also help local designers to access Indians globally.”
Peush Sikka, founder of fashion brand Nubella agrees and adds, “We sell online and our customers have to choose from size in inches/centimetres and also in US and UK size but now there will be more clarity and will help our audience to choose. For the plus-size audience, the size issues are more frequent due to distinct bust-waist-hip ratio — so that will be taken care of.”
"We sell online and our customers have to choose from size in inches/centimetres and also in US and UK size but now there will be more clarity and will help our audience to choose."
– Peush Sikka, Apparel designer.
"The project may be a good idea for the India fashion fraternity."
– Ritu Kumar, Apparel designer.