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A sizing system that is consistent across Europe is being developed

However, a system accepted by all market participants has not been developed yet.

Products in line with customer and market needs are the goal

The path from the production stage to the end user needs to be quicker and more cost-effective. In the fashion industry – where there is an incredibly strong focus on development – standardised sizing information is continuously becoming more important for this reason as well as in view of global online trade.

For a number of decades now, different cubits have been used to measure the body in Europe with regard to clothing sizes: a German size 38 is size 40 in France, size 44 in Italy, size 12 in Great Britain, size 10 in the USA, size 14 in Australia and size 13 in Japan – on a label attached to a blouse, this size might be referred to as “m” and on a pair of trousers, it might be referred to as “29/31”. With this in mind, standardisation makes perfect sense. However, despite years of efforts being made, there is still no standardisation system at a European level (CEN) or international level (ISO).

Europeans becoming “weightier”

There are a number of reasons why a standardisation system has not been established yet, including the fact that people in Central Europe are getting bigger and bigger. Nowadays, we are also heavier on average than our parents and grandparents. In the last 130 years, the height of the average German man has shot up by around 16 cm – this corresponds to an increase of over 1 cm per decade. The development is not going in the same direction in southern European countries however. The clothing industries in these countries are calling for this to be taken into account.

The European system prior to introduction

The objective of clothing manufacturers and the trade sector is to be able to offer well-fitting clothes to as many people as possible. To compensate for the continuous changes to bodily proportions, they continuously adapt their textile patterns. This takes place on the basis of body dimension tables that are created using a representative series of measurements.

Endeavours to implement a standardised sizing system have been ongoing in Europe since 1986. After countless errors and tribulations, experts agreed on an information system in 2017 within the framework of European standards (CEN/TC 248/WG 10); this system is recorded in the three-part EN 13402 standard (size designation of clothes).

The third part of the sizing standard approved by experts has come into effect finally.

Standardised sizing information

The information regarding the clothing size is expressed in terms of

  • the primary nominal size – usually the chest circumference in cm
  • body height in cm as well as

another circumference measurement (in cm) that is important with regard to the fit.  This information should always be specified on a pictogram as well. Depending on the item of clothing, it is up to the producer to specify one, two or three nominal sizes.

The body data required is conveyed as follows, for example:

96/168/72 (chest circumference / body height / waist

using the adjacent pictograms.