You know the drill. You think you're a certain size, buy clothes in that size, and wind up with some fitting you while others are too loose or too tight. Sometimes, the same size from the same brand even comes up differently. It's clear that high street clothing sizes are completely inconsistent, which is why a research project needs your help to solve the issue.
The University of Hertfordshire and several huge retailers including ASOS, New Look, and River Island have teamed up with researchers to create a new survey app. Entitled ShapeGB, the project aims to capture the precise measurements of at least 30,000 men and women living in the UK.
The process only takes around 10 minutes and involves you downloading the app, filling in a few personal details, and enlisting the help of someone to take two photographs of you. These are taken from the front and side view so that the 3D measuring technology can clearly see the outline of your body.
It then looks at the weight distribution of several parts of your body including arms, legs, chest, pelvis, and your abdomen. By doing this, the app can create a specific set of measurements that will be uploaded to a secure database and passed onto the involved brands so that they can see what people's bodies really look like.
Not only will this help us out but it will also help brands produce sizes that are guaranteed to fit a larger proportion of society, reducing waste and the chance of returns.
I know all too well the ins and outs of many brands' returns processes. You see, I'm supposedly a UK size 8. However, I have items in my wardrobe that are a 6, 10, and, yes, even a 4. Don't get me started when it comes to the multiple jeans sizes that are lurking somewhere in my room.
Unsurprisingly, it turns out that I'm not alone in my frustrations. Mintel's 2017 online fashion UK report revealed that 50 percent of online shoppers sent back their clothes in the past year. This figure increased to 56 percent for women shoppers specifically and a huge 60 percent for women aged between 25 and 44.
"For far too long, the fashion industry has dictated how consumers should look and women in particular have felt that this industry is perpetuating poor body image," the University of Hertfordshire's fashion programme leader, Tony Rosella, said in a statement. "Those who do not fit this stereotype, such as plus sizes, have been at a disadvantage due to limited fashion choices and badly fitting design."
He added that while "many people are already speaking out and advocating a more inclusive approach to fashion, until now, not much has been done to address and cater for the wide variety in body shapes."
Hopefully, this survey is the first step towards a more diverse fashion industry that doesn't prioritise one particular body shape, type, and size over the rest.
The app is currently only available on iOS devices but will be launching for Android devices soon. Results are set to be announced in spring 2019.
If you're worried about the safety of your images, you can stop panicking as the app deletes all photos immediately after measuring. The survey has also tried to be as inclusive as possible by giving those with disabilities the chance to submit their measurements too. If you have a disability that means you can't stand up, ShapeGB will send you a chart telling you what to do.
The gap between how brands think women look and how women actually look is real. And it's costing everyone time and money.
I've already downloaded the app and hope that my small contribution will help enable the fashion industry to rethink its sizing. The more ages, sizes, and ethnicities that help, the quicker things can change for the better.