Analysing and eliminating fitting problems
Digital catalogue helps manufacturers with quality control
BÖNNIGHEIM (ri) A good fit is the second most important criterion after value for money when buying clothes - that's what 63.6% of those questioned in the "Outfit 6"* market survey reported. In the light of this, experts at the Hohenstein Institute in Bönnigheim are currently developing a digital, 3D-based process for analysing the fit of ladies' outerwear, as part of an AiF research project (AiF No. 17763N). This is intended to give clothing manufacturers an overview of typical fitting problems that occur with ladies' outerwear and shows them how these problems can be eliminated by adjusting the cut or by using alternative materials.
After all, it is in fact the fit of clothes, so highly rated by customers, that is causing importers and manufacturers more and more problems. Now with this digital fitting catalogue, the Hohenstein experts are providing companies with a resource to help them analyse these typical fitting problems. Together with the suggestions that are also given in the digital catalogue for adjusting the cut and/or altering the materials, it will help them to eliminate many faults at an early stage of product development, resulting in significant savings.
However, for project manager Simone Morlock, standardised fit analysis is only one step along the way to the perfect fit: "The digital catalogue includes the most commonly occurring problems with fitting, and suggested solutions for them. This helps to ensure that minimum standards for the quality of fit are met. However, to achieve a really good fit, it is essential to have professional help with adjusting the cut and sizing, and to carry out individual fit testing for the different garment sizes, using volunteers. All this requires a lot of experience and expertise, because analysing the fit is an extremely complex process in which the model, material, purpose and target users all have to be taken into account." Increasingly, companies from all over the world are coming to the Hohenstein Institute for this fitting expertise, in order to resolve any problems that they are having with guaranteeing a good fit. Simone Morlock believes that there are many different reasons for these: "In many of the companies in the clothing industry here in Germany, which are often small or medium-sized enterprises, we are seeing one generation being replaced by another. Manufacturers are finding it hard to replace their experienced cutting directors and specialist clothing technicians who have been working on quality control. The reason for this is that certain areas of work have increasingly been outsourced in recent years and the training of a new generation of skilled experts in pattern cutting and fitting has been neglected. The content of training courses at specialist colleges has also changed: there is less teaching about pattern cutting and more about management and business skills." Furthermore, there is very little relevant literature, and not many processes use modern 3D technologies . And Simone Morlock sees far more serious problems in relation to non-European production sites: "Often the standard of training of the employees is relatively poor so problems with fit are virtually inevitable."
With their current research work on standardised fit analysis and quality-controlled product development in the clothing industry (AiF-No. 17154 N), the experts at the Hohenstein Institute are equipping manufacturers and retailers with an important framework to assist them with their own fit and quality control processes. In response to the growing demand for cutting expertise from the industry, the Hohenstein experts also offer a number of other services relating to fit and design. More information about this can be found at www.hohenstein.de/passform.
*Statista GmbH, "Most important criteria when buying clothes. Survey by Marplan, Ipsos GmbH, Sinus Sociovision GmbH, ISBA Informatik Service-GmbH. Title of survey: Outfit 6. Period of survey: October 2006 to January 2007", http://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/178040/umfrage/sehr-wichtige-kriterien-beim-kauf-von-kleidung/, accessed on 16.11.2011.
The "Diagnosing fit" research project at a glance
The researchers first produced an assessment matrix which can be used to give an objective indication of the effect of different parameters on the quality of fit. It covers aspects ranging from the body dimensions and body shape of the wearer to the characteristics of the materials used.
Then they developed an innovative procedure for analysing fit by using 3D scanning. They carried out a project study on 3D fit evaluation. Female volunteers were scanned, with and without outer clothing in different garment sizes and of different types such as trousers, skirts and blouses. From the visual impression shown on the 3D scan, the experts at the Hohenstein Institute were able to evaluate the fit of the clothing and identify typical fitting faults in ladies' outerwear. At the same time, the fit of the garments was assessed by experienced clothing technicians both on the volunteers and on tailor's dummies. They also used a standardised questionnaire to record the personal assessments of the volunteers regarding fit and comfort. By comparing the actual and virtual fitting trials, together with the subjective impressions of the volunteers, the team led by Simone Morlock was able to develop a reproducible, 3D-based method for diagnosing fit quality. The main benefit of 3D technology is that the fit can be analysed accurately. Details such as how the fabric falls are shown in detail on the scan and differences in fit can be more closely analysed in relation to specific sizes or target groups.
The new process is equally useful for judging the fit of a close-fitting woollen sheath dress or a knitted polo shirt for outdoor leisure wear.
Thanks to this process and their many years of industry experience, the specialists have been able to develop possible design solutions for effectively eliminating fitting problems. These are represented in the form of diagrams in the catalogue so that the modifications that need to be made in the cut of garments can be more easily communicated.
Last but not least, Simone Morlock's research team matched their design solutions to the fitting problems that they had identified – examples of which are shown in the form of 3D scans – and so have been able to present their diagnostic process in the form of a digital fitting catalogue. The result is a catalogue that distinguishes between different products, models and groups of materials, target groups and applications.
The digital fitting catalogue offers a wide range of practical and useful solutions for analysing fit and eliminating fitting problems, and so helps companies by equipping them with basic knowledge about pattern cutting and fit and quality control. Manufacturers can compare their own fitting problems with the examples in the catalogue and eliminate the faults with the help of these suggestions.