The perfect silhouette
Modular sample sizes ensure that sheath dresses fit perfectly
BÖNNIGHEIM (just/ri) Getting the cut right for ladies' clothes in general and sheath dresses in particular is rightly regarded as the ultimate challenge among manufacturers of ladies' outerwear: bust, waist and hip measurements vary from one woman to another, as do body proportions. With two-piece outfits, this kind of discrepancy can be easily overcome by combining garments in different sizes. With a one-piece item like a dress, however, it is difficult to cater for different body proportions in a single garment.
This is the challenge that has been taken on by the Hohenstein Institute in Bönnigheim and the Hamburg-based company Matteo Dosso, experts in customised clothing, as part of a research project (ZIM No. KF2136726CJ2). The project partners have developed modular pieces for people to try on that they are calling slip-on or sample sizes, for different parts of the body. Ladies can try these on in the shop and combine them to achieve the perfect fit. The separate try-on pieces can be used to work out the dimensions and modifications required for factory production of a customised dress.
This paves the way for customised ladies' wear to be efficiently produced and marketed by factories. It is easier on the customer's purse while at the same time guaranteeing an individually configured garment that fits perfectly.
Whereas factory-produced customised clothing for men is already offered by many manufacturers, the range available for ladies has so far been very limited, comprising mainly jackets, trousers, blouses, skirts and, to a lesser extent, coats. The try-on garments that have now been developed by the Hohenstein scientists encompass not only standard sizes but also models for all kinds of figures. Special rules have been devised to take account of the properties of different materials.
As a first step, the researchers worked out all the sizes and figure types that they needed, for which they were able to call on the body shape data in the Hohenstein Institute data pool. This includes not only the results of the SizeGERMANY size survey but also measurements from various research projects in which, for example, the body dimensions of women aged over 60 or women with plus-size figures had been measured using a contactless 3D scanner. With the help of these surveys of female body proportions, the researchers worked out how many basic sizes should be manufactured for a ladies' dress. These were then manufactured using a CAD design program and then tested for fit and appearance. Finally, by simulating changes in body dimensions, it was possible to work out what modifications needed to be made to the basic designs.
In order to keep the range of try-on sizes as small as possible yet still offer a wide choice, a two-piece clothing system was used which takes account of all possible variations in body shape. It consists of tops designed to be sufficiently flexible around the waist and hips that they can take account even of extreme variations on standard garment sizes. The tops can be combined with skirts meeting the same requirements. The basic models are made initially in a standard material but this can be replaced by other fabrics at the request of the customer. To make sure that the dress will still fit perfectly, the researchers have developed a system of rules and interpretation which translates the individual properties of different fabrics into modifications to the cut. In the end, the whole process ensures that every dress, regardless of the customer's body shape or preferred material, will guarantee them an excellent, customised fit.
Thanks to their many years of experience and by taking an innovative approach, the project partners have succeeded in creating a process for factory production of customised ladies' dresses that is market-ready. Now manufacturers and retailers are able to bring to the market dresses that fit perfectly and will delight even the most discerning customers. The new system also offers a host of new options and market opportunities for innovative companies in the fields of corporate fashion and functional workwear.
|Factory-produced customised clothing – what does that mean?|
The basic idea of factory-produced customised clothing is to combine the cost benefits of mass produced ready-to-wear garments with the good fit of garments that have been individually made-to-measure.
To achieve this, the manufacturers of customised clothing offer, on the one hand, various alternative sizes, and, on the other, different fabrics and details. From these, the customer can choose their preferred combination. The dimensions are entered in an individual CAD design and then the manufacture – that is to say, stitching together the individual pieces and adding zips, accessories etc. – takes place in a similar way to the mass production of ready-to-wear garments.
So far, a few large and many small providers in different price and quality segments offer factory-produced customised clothing in Germany. The main target group so far has been men, because the number of different products for them is far smaller than for women.
The main body dimensions of customers are either measured in the traditional way using a tape measure or by using a modern contactless 3D scanner. However, because of the high cost of buying and maintaining scanners, only a few companies are able to consider using them. Try-on or slip-on garments are a cost-effective and practical alternative which allows a very good fit to be achieved.