27 July, 2021

A Billion Bodies, But No Size Fits

The first national NIFT survey will finally chart the Indian body type, if indeed such a thing is found to exist

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A graduate fashion student at work
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A Billion Bodies, But No Size Fits

Ever gone out clothes shopping and picked out the perfect fit for your body type in the first go? Or gone and picked out a size 10 UK in a particular store which was a bit too small, even though you usually fit into a size 10 US perfectly? Welcome to the surreal and frustrating world of clothes sizes, one where at least in India, no one can come to a conclusion about what small, medium and large actually stand for.

Take a quick poll about clothes and what people expect, and most will say that what matters, even more than price, is the fit of a garment. And yet there is hardly a woman in India who can conclusively say what her size is. While size small may be a perfect fit in one shop, she’ll probably have to fish out a large in the next. The bust-waist ratio is never ideal and, what is more confounding, most women have not found a store whose jeans are the perfect length. Men too face similar issues. No Indian man has ever been comfortable with his collar buttoned up, and while size 38 fits snugly in one store, the same size will be marked as 40 in another. Sleeve...

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