Fit step in ready-to-wear clothing. Towards a reduction of garment disposal in view of sustainability
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- Culture studies 
Sustainable development in clothing production is my motivation for this thesis. When reviewing the literature on why clothing items are discarded before they are worn out, the two most frequently mentioned reasons for clothing disposal in several surveys are fit issues and lack of quality. This thesis addresses women’s problems with the fit of ready-to-wear clothing: clothing design manufactured multiples of one design. The common practice today in the production of ready-to-wear clothing is to make a prototype fitted to the hourglass shape, which is widely accepted as the ideal body shape for women. This prototype is graded into sizes using a sizing table. The sizes are not based on the anthropometric measurements of the target consumer group, and the grading is done in a linear and schematic fashion that does not take into account different proportions for different body shapes that represent the size range of the target population. Because of this practice, only a minority of women find well-fitting garments among ready-to-wear clothing. The research problem for the thesis is Why are clothes disposed of before they are worn out? This question is investigated with a literature review that reveals the need for better fit in ready-to-wear clothing. My background as both a designer and tailor has given me the possibility to use critical utopian action research as an approach for conducting a case study with the research question: How can the cut of a prototype be graded to fit different female body shapes? In the case study called Anorak:VG, different body shapes are constructed inside the cut of one prototype during grading. Through the case Anorak:VG, an additional step, the fit step, in the working process of the product development of ready-to-wear clothing is created. This additional step, in which the pattern pieces of a prototype are graded individually from size to size and adapted to different body shapes, builds on earlier research in which suggestions are made for changes in the sizing systems and the grading of block patterns based on anthropometric data. The specific contribution of this research is showing the importance of using the actual seam lines in one prototype in the adaption to different body shapes and proportions in order to achieve good fit. Graded block patterns based on anthropometric data are recommended; however, their use alone is not sufficient. If the clothing producers of ready-to-wear clothing build their sizing tables and grading on anthropometric data from their target population and add the fit step to their production process, it is more likely that the majority of women in a target group will be offered well-fitting clothing in ready-to-wear clothing stores. In general, clothing today has a too-brief user period, resulting in an unnecessary amount of garbage. One could speculate whether well-fitting clothing is more likely to be worn often than ill-fitting clothing. One could also speculate if well-fitting clothes are more likely to be favourite garments to which the user has an extended emotional attachment. Emotional attachment to a garment makes it more likely for the owner to want to extend its life cycle by repairing or mending it. From a sustainable development perspective, an extended user period of clothing could be achieved by applying the fit step in the textile and clothing sector.