Six major UK fashion retailers, including Next, ASOS and River Island, are backing a major new study into the nation’s body sizes, which is said to be the most comprehensive study of its kind ever carried out.
The Shape GB study is being carried out by Select Research and is backed by Innovate UK and the consortium of retailers, which also includes F&F at Tesco, New Look, and Monsoon Accessorize. It is setting out to create a nationally representative sample of a minimum of 30,000 adult men and women.
Shape GB will use revolutionary new Body Volume Technology to discern body shape, which was originally developed in healthcare for the Body Volume Indicator (BVI), a new and more modern enhancement to the Body Mass Index (BMI). Data will be collected via an app that can discern body shape from two photographs and a short questionnaire.
The survey is open to everyone over 18 who has access to an iOS device. The body volume software only uses the body outlines anonymously and then privately and securely creates 3D scientific data for use in sizing and body shape design by retailers and clothing designers. The images are always deleted.
Body Volume Technology measures the weight distribution of seven areas of the body – both arms, both legs, chest, pelvis and the abdomen in 3D, so it can similarly capture body volumes for retail clothing. The aim is to collect data from across the nation to help better understand people who have the same clothing size (e.g. 12), but are different body shapes.
Richard Barnes, CEO & Founder of Select Research said the shape of the nation had changed since the last major study, so an update was needed. “This Shape GB project will help with the problems we have with sizing by measuring and including body shape as an integral part of the process. Since we did the last national sizing survey in 2001, we have changed due to natural evolution and lifestyle choices, but we don’t know how or by how much, so we need to understand body shape better.
“There is also a lack of consistency in sizing across different clothing brands and the aim of ShapeGB is to use body volume as a new way of measuring body shape to help us find better ways of resolving this for the customer. For the first time, using an app, we can now measure body shape on a huge scale which means we can look at new ways of integrating that into the manufacturing process,” he added.
Alan Wragg, Technical Director from F&F at Tesco said it had reduced returns in its childrenswear through better understanding of sizing and wanted to achieve the same with adult clothing. “We worked with Select Research on the last Shape GB Childrenswear Sizing Survey ten years ago. The body shape data they produced helped us better define sizing from ages 4-17, which resulted in a significant decrease in returns. The next stage is now on adult clothes sizing and we hope the whole nation can take part to try and solve a problem that affects almost everyone in some way.”
Select Research were Data Controllers on Size UK; the last adult national sizing survey in 2001, when 11,000 men and women were measured in 12 locations. The technology used then measured volunteers in a static 3D scanner and so they had to attend in person, meaning a lot of people across the country were left out. The new technology and app mean people anywhere can take part in the study.
More information can be found at the Shape GB website.