One of the biggest perks you receive when you purchase an Alvanon Mannequin is access to their wide variety of body data and information. As a leading company in body sizes and shapes, they have been able to compile and provide a wide range of Size Charts and Measurements that brands can easily follow when building out their apparel shop. They also are starting to provide 3D Avatars that match the exact shape and size of the mannequin you purchased, which is a huge advantage if you’re working with 3D renderings.
I wanted to offer up a bit of advice when using these tools though. In working with many clients and companies, I have not once worked with someone who believes their provided body standard straight grade is correct for garment grading. And if you're wondering here what the difference between these two should be, check out a previous blog post of mine, here.
First of all, let’s start off by defining: what is a “straight grade”? I’m referring to a grade rule that goes up and down the same amount on all sizes. Most brands do use a grade rule like this for their body size charts that they post online, and I've seen great success with these. I also see garment straight grade rules from a lot of apparel brands who are working off of a factory’s standards instead of creating their own measurements. Believe me, this can be a fantastic way to start if you don’t have access to more body data or wear testing results. It just makes a couple of assumptions that do not typically prove to be correct. This type of grading says that a size X-Large body is 2” larger in total circumference than a Large, and equally says that a size X-Small body is only 2” smaller than a Small. These types of measurements do make for very pretty pattern shapes, but I fear that might be all that they do.
When studying the average sizes and shapes of bodies around the world, those of us who have dedicated large portions of our career to understanding apparel fit and true garment measurements believe that a non-linear grade is much more accurate. For example, research shows that X-Small and Small sized bodies are much closer to each other in total circumference than sizes X-Large and up. So if you’re making assumptions that those ratios are the same, you really end up doing a disservice to anybody wearing a size with an “X” in front of it (whether it be variations of Smalls or Larges).
What I recommend to any brand looking to utilize Alvanon’s measurement data is to absolutely use it when creating your customer-facing body size chart. But if you want to use it as a way to also develop your garments, I only recommend that you use it as a very strong starting point. I like to do comparisons across multiple size charts, standardized data, similar garment measurements and all of my wear test results to come up with an accurate grade for the brand I’m working with. Pulling Alvanon’s information into the mix is extremely valuable whenever I do these exercises, but I do tend to make changes and adjust their final numbers in the end.
Grading your garments and your body size chart for online size guides could make or break your business. If you don’t know your customer’s body well enough to provide them with clothes that truly fit the ways that their shapes change from size to size, then you might find yourself with poor reviews and product returns. Make sure you’re working with an experienced technical designer who can put together a detailed grade rule for your brand, and you will see your customers’ brand loyalty go through the roof!