January 06, 2015

Book review: Sizing in clothing

This is one of the books I ran across while working on my own book on grading. Sizing in Clothing (Woodhead Publishing Series in Textiles) is a collection of scholarly papers edited by S. P. Ashdown on the current (as of 2007) issues related to sizing ready-to-wear clothing. It is a dense read and it took me every bit of time I had with the book to get through it. I'm glad I read it.

The audience for this book is very narrow in scope. This is not a book for someone starting their own apparel line. Do not run out and buy this book unless you have a real interest in sizing theory - it will not help you figure out the sizing for your line. If you did want to buy it, the book runs in the $200-$250 range. I obtained a copy through inter-library loan, which also proved a bit of a challenge. Only a handful of college libraries carry a copy they are willing to loan outside their library system. So I had to read this book on a deadline and handle the book with kid gloves over the holidays.

Some technical designers, pattern makers, and graders may be interested in some of the included articles. Over the next several weeks, I will post a review/discussion on some of the topics covered. My two favorite articles were on the History of sizing systems and ready-to-wear garments by Winifred Aldrich and Military Sizing. There are other really great topics about sizing and target markets, size standardization (a hot topic!), apparel production and sizing, and of course, pattern grading.

Because each chapter is written by different authors, it's hard to give a review of the book as a whole. Some articles were very well written and easy to read, such as my two favorites listed above. Others are written in a formal academic style which is very difficult to read and even more difficult to ferret out what the author is trying to say. As a collection, the articles cover nearly every angle.

Since the articles are written mostly by academics, there is a bit of a disconnect with those working on the front lines (the exception being the Military sizing article). It would be easy to characterize the writers as sitting in their academic ivory towers telling us what to do because they "know better". Embedded in many of the articles is criticism aimed at the industry for assumed sizing problems that the industry either "created" or refuse to solve. While some of the criticism is unfair in my opinion, the information they provide us is still valuable. I'll discuss some of this later in the individual reviews. Despite all of this, I'm glad there are people out there willing to think about these problems, propose solutions, and test them out.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for writing this post! I was researching the book and am really interested in sizing and fit, though I was not going to shell out the $200 on a gamble. Your post helped me realize this book is probably not right for me, even if it would be an interesting read. And now I've discovered your blog and will be reading your follow-up posts about articles in the book. Plus I'm really interested in your book on grading. How is that going?

    Do you have any recommendations for books that would help a brand develop their sizing? I have a specific market I want to target but I'm not sure how best to learn about getting the right fit across the size range.