Finding the Right Fit for Women and Retailers
By George Anderson
New standardized sizing systems might make it easier to find the right fit for women looking to buy clothes off the rack but that may not suit retailers, reports The New York Times.
Fit Technologies has developed a sizing system that produces clothing to fit three basic body types: straight silhouette, curvy and pearlike. The company identifies the fit by placing a one, two or three after the traditional size so that a woman wearing a 10 with a curvy figure, for example, would have her apparel identified as 10.2.
While standardized sizing offers clear benefits to consumers, systems such as Fit Technologies’ can be problematic for retailers.
The need for more specific sizing requires that more inventory be carried. Instead of carrying a quantity of size 10 dresses, for example, a retailer would need to order based on three versions of the same basic size. The net result, some say, would be that retailers would need to carry more items and provide additional space to display product.
Stores would also need to provide additional staff training on understanding the sizing system and helping consumers make the right choices.
Retailers have also been known to benefit from consumer confusion over sizing. Because of a lack of a single standard, consumers tend to stick with certain brands and stores when they find the right fit. By taking this factor out of the equation, consumers would be free to shop anywhere.
While there may be challenges, proponents of systems such as that offered by Fit Technologies say it can help retailers better satisfy customers and reduce returns. According to research from NPD Group, 36 percent of women return clothing because it is not the right fit. Those returns, NPD estimates, equal 12 percent of all clothing sales.
A number of retailers, including Macy’s and Nordstrom, have tested the Fit Technologies system with a limited number of items produced by Jones Apparel and Garfield & Marks. Macy’s has chosen to discontinue the line while Nordstrom said it has no plans to expand what it is currently doing.
The issue is purely financial, said Nancy Jones, vice president for marketing at Garfield & Marks. While acknowledging the benefit to consumers, she added, “We have not figured out how to get this concept out to our stores in a fashion they can accept financially and commit to in terms of space.”
Moderator’s Comment: Do the benefits of a sizing system such as that offered by Fit Technologies outweigh the challenges associated with it from a retailer’s
George Anderson – Moderator