The Business of Big & Tall: Tech

The Business of Big & Tall: Can Tech Solve Our Sizing Issues?

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This is the second installment of The Business of Big & Tall, a limited series taking a look at what it takes to make clothes for plus size people. Read the our article on the fat tax here.

In the apparel industry, there’s no universal standard for sizing. Depending on where I shop, the size I wear can range from XL to 6X. This means, in order to get as close as possible to the correct size when ordering online, it’s important to know your exact measurements. Even then, sometimes things just don’t fit. Since it’s unlikely that every company out there is going to adopt a universal sizing standard anytime soon, what’s the solution? Maybe we turn to custom tailoring and technology.

Custom tailored clothing has been available to the masses since the renaissance, but cost and accessibility have long been issues. These days, you can buy custom made clothing online for a fraction of what it can cost to get something locally. Problem is, you’re most likely doing the measurements yourself, which isn’t always easy or accurate. I have absolutely ended up with clothes that didn’t fit because I didn’t measure myself correctly, even after following directions on a website.

Zozo Suit Bag
The Zozo suit

Can Technology Offer Customers a Better Fit?

What if you didn’t have to worry about entering your measurements at all? That was the promise of Zozo, a well-known Japanese brand that was trying to use your phone to get exact measurements and make clothes that fit you perfectly. Customers could order a zozosuit, the black and white polka dot spandex getup you see here, which would interface with Zozo’s app to create a 3D rendering of your body and its exact measurements.

Just lounging in my zozosuit

I went through the process and marveled at the in-depth measurements it offered. Sure, there were the requisite chest and waist measurements, but Zozo was diving deep, giving me more specifics. Thigh, hips, upper arms, even ankles. Sure, these are all measurements and tailor can do, but I had them calculated in 5 minutes in my kitchen and all I had to do was put on a silly looking suit and twirl.

Zozo 3D measurements

How Accurate is Sizing Tech, Though?

Well, that’s the thing. Once I had my measurements from Zozo, I looked at their shop via the app and chose clothing from the small assortment they offered (think Gap basics, which is where they were starting). I ordered and waited. And waited. And waited some more. It took about 3 months for my order to arrive. When it did, nothing fit.

How could that be? I’m still unsure. One shirt was too short and another was boxy in the shoulders and too long in the body. The jeans were huge and…droopy is the only way to describe them. The measurements were totally wrong with everything.

Was it a breakdown between the exact measurements from the Zozo app and the clothing manufacuturer? Were the measurements just wrong? Unfortunately, I’ll never know because Zozo closed their international shop back in April.

New in the Chubstr Shop

Is Technology the Future of Big & Tall?

Other companies are experimenting with 3D body scanning and other types technology in order to get a better fit, but it remains to be seen who, if anyone, is going to get it right. We’ll continue to see technology make strides toward better fit, but for now, custom tailoring and retailers like DXL, who have specific sizing requirements for most, if not all of the clothes they carry, are our best bet to get a good, consistent fit.

Read more articles about the business of big and tall in the Industry section here at Chubstr.

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