Espionage for better sizing pt.2
Apparently this topic is a total bust, not one single comment from yesterday’s post. Was it too arcane, too technical or just too boring? Ah well. Plodding onwards, yesterday I was explaining why you might analyze the sizing of your competitors (or rather, those you’d hope to compete with) to develop your own sizing standards. If you’re new to the business you may not realize that you can’t adopt blanket grading standards out of a book because every niche is different; consumers in each niche will have existing prejudices and expectations based on the performance of existing product lines in the market. Contrarily, you may also choose not to size as competing products do, this being an edge in your market if sizing is the factor you think is poorly executed.
Once you’ve followed the instructions to extrapolate a competitor’s grade as described yesterday, now you may want to gauge the overall grading quality of a competing line. The first thing I would do is repeat the exercise I described yesterday but in another colorway of the exact same style. There’s a couple of reasons for this. One, I’d want to know the overall quality of the pattern making and product development. One way to judge this is to compare colorways within each style. Depending on whether the item is washable, garment washed (prewashed) or dry clean only, dimensions of color ways of the same exact style may vary and this can be a good thing! If the items are dry clean only, you can ignore the rest of this; the styles across colorways should match up. If the items are washable, they should differ because even if it is the “same” fabric, shrinkage will vary based on the color. Usually, darker colors shrink more than light colors.
For example, a lot of people will go into a store and try on a pair of pants. If they like it, they may buy that color plus other colors without trying them on. Or, they may try them all on. Now, if these pants are washable and they fit exactly the same across colorways, I wouldn’t buy them because after processing, they won’t end up fitting the same. Now, if they fit differently prewashed, I’d make my purchasing decision based on the fit of the smallest pair (usually light colored, white or taupe). If the smallest pair fit, one can reasonably expect the larger sized item (often black) in another colorway to fit similarly after it was washed. It is the product line with varying fit across colorways of the same exact style that has the highest quality pattern making, not the contrary which is what most people think. Even if the item is marked “pre-shrunk”, I don’t trust it; it usually shrinks up more anyway. Accordingly, you want to analyze the fit of competing products in this way. Generally, a product that follows this pattern of varying fit in one style across colorways will have higher quality sizing characteristics; there’s more integrity (and cost) in the development. The manufacturer had to have first shrink tested the goods and then made a separate pattern for each colorway. The latter is a simple matter if one has a CAD system because the system will automatically grow the pattern based on shrink percentages. This can also be done by hand but it takes longer.
Now that you’ve analyzed one style for consistency and quality of product development, you may want to examine related styles, so called “parent” or “child” styles; in other words, styles that are similar enough to the first that it is likely they were generated from the same block. Again, you’d pull three consecutive sizes, the median size plus the others off to either side of that. The differences of girths and widths should be identical to the previous measures. If these all match up, then you could expect that this product line had a measure of integrity and consistency that you’d do well to consider adopting for yourself.
A word about intellectual property. All of this is fair game. It’s not a situation of “everybody’s doing it, therefore it’s okay” although it is true everyone does it because I don’t believe that just because “everybody” does something, legitimizes it. It’s a case where the dearth of accessible information regarding consumer dimensions must be pulled empirically from practitioners in the field with their ear to the ground, responding more rapidly to changes in the market than charts in books ever could. It’s just a launch point, an entry. If you plan to continue in this business, sure, you’d start here on the basis of this research but then it would become incumbent upon you to evolve with the changing needs of your customers. In other words, while this may be your launch point, it’s not your destination; you’re not relying on constant derivations from your competitor. Your sizing will evolve over time as you create your own identity and meet the needs of your customers.
That is all. If you’ve gotten this far, I can only hope you haven’t have expired from boredom, necessitating the prying of your dead rotting corpse from the chair in front of the monitor. If you live in a dry climate, it’s not so bad. A humid climate and things could get messy. Ick. By the way, it’s poor form to die there you know. Someone else may want to use the computer.