What Is A Size Chart ?
(12-31-33). There are two distinct types of size chart used in the clothing industry. The first is a public size chart, created to help shoppers determine their correct size for your brand, within a particular garment type.
Measurements may consist of a mix of body measurements and garment lengths – Chest, Waist, Hip and Inside Leg Length for instance.
The second is an apparel industry size chart used by clothing professionals, to ensure that each style is graded correctly, and to aid quality control. This industry chart uses a far more comprehensive list of garment measures, for one specific style.
Creating A Size Chart For The UK Market.
Your size chart is absolutely vital to the success and profitability of your business. If your sizing is out, then each extra size bigger and smaller will become progressively out. If you choose the wrong size profile for your brand, that too will cause problems. That all means more returns, less sales, and less confidence in your brand.
The Correct Base Size.
Before you create a size chart you need to create and approve the base size from your sample. This should be a medium size to fit your average customer. Factors that affect your brands sizing include age, fitness, and body type.
Preferably you will have a suitable size fit model available to try your sample. Good designers tend to have their own favourite fit models who they trust to give invaluable feedback before production.
Your fit model does not need to be a professional. Just someone of the right size who can give you good feedback.
Each brand is targeted toward a specific type of customer, who will often fall within particular body shapes. Younger brands will generally be smaller, while older brands will be bigger, with bigger waists.
Some activewear requires very specific sizing. Bodybuilding clothing will be different to swimwear, or equestrian wear.
Once you have perfected the sample fit, you will need to decide how many sizes you want to make, in what format, and in what increments. This is best done in consultation with a sizing expert, such as a professional designer, pattern cutter, or grader.
If money is limited, you may want to opt for three sizes – small, medium and large, with 8 cms increments. This way you cover a larger range of sizes, although each size will be less likely to be a perfect fit.
If you want to have 5 cm increments then it is probably better to choose to have more easily identified sizing – 38″,40″ and 42″ for example. Or 10, 12 and 14.
How you choose the sizing method of your brand is just as important as the chart itself.
Your size chart may be included in the tech pack, or could be a separate document.
There is no internationally recognised standard for sizing. So, each company has to determine who their customer is, what type of fit they are after, and what type of sizing to aim for.
There are three basic types of size chart used in the clothing industry. :-
1). Grading Size Chart. This is a size chart, used by fashion industry professionals to instruct the graders how to create the different sizes, and what increments to apply where.
This requires a lot of experience, especially if dealing with many different sizes, or complicated patterns. It is especially difficult for childrenswear.
Most people could produce a reasonable size chart over a few sizes with a little training. Anything over three sizes should be left to the experts though.
The grading size chart measurements can be based either on the garment, or the pattern. – They are not always the same measurement.
2). Production Size Chart. This size chart is used by the quality controller (QC) in order to check that the production is correct. It should be done using a garment spec in which the actual sample garment is measured for the base size, and increments calculated for the other sizes.
The garment measurements may well differ from the pattern measurements, due to sewing, or cloth reaction such as stretching or shrinking.
The factory may take a slightly different seam allowance. One factory may make the garment a little different to another factory. But that factory should be able to produce exactly the same garment for production.
3). Customers Size Chart. This is a basic size chart with a few essential measurements, supplied by a clothing brand at point of sale. This ensures that the customer receives the correct size product, and essentially for online businesses, helps limit returns.
Some brands, like Superdry put very useful further information and customer fit comments that increase the chances of getting an exact fit.
The measurements used can be garment measurements, or body measurements. Often clients confuse the customer size charts with professional grading charts. But these are totally different things.
Standard UK Ladies Size.
While there is no official UK standard size, most ladieswear brands use either a size ten, or twelve as their base size. The younger brands will tend to use size ten, while the older brands may use a twelve. More confusingly, many brands will name a standard twelve as a ten, because women tend to be rather optimistic in their own sizing.
Typical body measurements for a standard UK size 10 would be :
- BUST – 35″
- WAIST – 28″
- HIP – 37″
Standard UK Mens Sizes.
Typical body sizes for a standard UK size medium would be :
- CHEST – 40″
- WAIST – 33″
- HIP – 40″
Measuring The Sample.
In order to create a size chart it is necessary to produce a garment spec first, by measuring the sample. The sample wont necessarily measure the same as the pattern, but if the measures are only as a reference for grading rather than checking production, this may not matter.
You would think that just measuring a garment would be simple and straight forward, but without years of experience it can prove really difficult to produce accurate measurements.
Why Garment And Pattern May Differ.
There are various reasons why the garment and pattern measurements may not correspond. It could be due to fabric shrinking or stretching. Or the stitching may cause the seams to shorten or lengthen. Or the machinist may take a slightly different seam allowance.
One factory may make your garment a little differently to another, or the machine settings may differ. The important thing is that your factory needs to make their own sample before production.
If it does not come up to spec you need to either alter the spec, or adjust the pattern or making so that their sample does come up to spec. As long as the production is made in the same way as the sample, the production should come up to spec.
It is not possible to be absolutely accurate in production, so a certain amount of tolerance is allowed for. This can vary from brand to brand, and does not usually cause a problem. The factories do tend to be more on their toes for the big brands though, so its worth being quite stringent from the start.
Professional Size Chart.
Deciding on a sizing formula is not quite as easy as it appears. Each company first needs to determine who their target customer is – Are they young, old, or middle aged ? Athletic or sedentary ? Thin, or muscular ? Curvy or thin ?
If your brand is aimed at a younger customer, then they will generally remain a constant height through the size range. If they are athletic, then chest, waist and hip sizes will increase at an equal rate.
An older male customer is likely to have a comparatively bigger waist size than a younger one. And this waist increase will be mainly at the front. There are many different variables involved.
Points Of Measure.
If you are to provide a grader or factory with a size chart in order for them to create the base pattern, or to grade the subsequent sizes, it would also be necessary to provide them with a technical drawing that illustrates exactly where the points of measure are. Without this many graders will not understand where your measurements refer to.
No brand can afford to have too many returns, especially for online sales. Neither can they afford for their customers to be reluctant to buy due to being unsure whether of the fit. The sizing need to be consistent throughout the range from year to year.
Once the base size is perfected, the graded sizes need to be created from this base size. Each size needs to look just like the original design, but bigger. Any errors in the pattern will be exaggerated the further from the original size the grading gets.
A common error when covering a lot of sizes is that the shoulder gets too big. This is because there is a compromise built into the grading formula in the relationship between bicep and armhole measurements.
Due to the way the human body increases in size, it is not possible to have all sizes look exactly the same but bigger. Some styles only look right in a small range of sizes, while others can look fine in any size.
Type Of Fit.
You need to decide from the outset what type of fit is required, what the biggest and smallest sizes should be, how many sizes there should be and what the increments should be between sizes.
Then you need to decide how to label the sizes. Should they be labelled Small, Medium and Large ? Or Size 1, Size 2 and Size 3 ? Or 8, 10 and 12 ? Or 34″, 36″ and 38″ ?
How Many Sizes Do I Need ?
Factories want to have a good run of garments per colour per size. The more sizes and colours you have, the smaller the run. The smaller the run , the more the garment will cost.
A small business on a limited budget will want to keep the production costs as low as possible by having only as many sizes as they need. The size chart should be fairly straightforward if there are only three or four sizes.
It may be that the style lends itself to a particular body size and shape. So you may decide to have Small, Medium and Large with 6″ ( 15 cms ) between the smallest and the largest sizes.
That would be a fairly standard range of sizes, with 2″ ( 5 cms ) increments between each size. Or you may decide to cover a larger range of sizes using the same amount of sizes.
In this case you may have a 3″ ( 7.5 cms ) grade. But the difference between the smallest and largest sizes would be 9″ ( 23 cms ). Each size would be less exact and there may be a greater risk of returns.
How To Create A Size Chart.
Creating a size chart is best left to a professional, as it is easy to make mistakes if you dont know what you are doing. It is certainly too difficult to explain here. If you would like to learn how to create a size chart, we do offer a one to one size chart workshop.
The size guide for customer reference is loosely based on the size chart, but using mostly body measurements rather than garment measurements.
While this size guide is far less detailed than the size chart, it does need to be pretty comprehensive to give confidence to the shopper. The customer needs to have confidence that the garment will fit.
Neither the buyer nor the seller would be happy with a return. Faced with insufficient sizing information, many shoppers will either not buy at all, or opt to buy several sizes so that they can return the ones that dont fit.
There needs to be a separate size guide for mens, ladies` and childrens clothing. And for each type of product. The size guide needs to be easily available on the product page and easily understood.
The Spec Sheet.
There is some confusion over the difference between a spec sheet, a size chart and a tech pack. The spec sheet is the technical document that contains all the construction details, along with the sample measurements.
The size spec contains all the measurements for all the sizes. The tech pack is a range of documents that contains all the information regarding your design.
How Much Does A Size Chart Cost ?
A size chart is usually separate to the tech pack, because a sample needs to be created and approved before finalising the size chart. Prices can vary dramatically form place to place. A basic size chart with four sizes could cost anything from £50 to £200