In My View: Why Sizing & Sustainability Go Hand in Hand

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What does proper bra fit have to do with preserving the planet? Actually, more than one would think. Because, in today’s COVID marketplace, with surging e-commerce sales and spiraling return rates, that little bralette, the one purchased in a few swift clicks online then sent back for being too tight, is contributing to textile waste.

Try this on for size: More than $64B of apparel is returned annually, and over 70 percent of surveyed consumers cite fit as the main reason for making apparel and shoe related returns. Additionally, returns and dead inventory add over 15 million tons of textile waste into landfills yearly in the U.S. alone. (source: Luxor & Finch.)

Increasingly experts draw a direct line between sizing and sustainability. Whether talking about a sports bra, a pair of jeans or fast fashion, and whether the focus is the supply chain, or 3D technology or Internet shopping, the conversation converges on the problem of fit.

Contactless body scanning done on an iPhone, integration of robotics on the factory floor, AI for real time data collection, and on-demand business models are starting to be implemented to solve outdated modes of sizing, and propel the industry toward a more sustainable future.

The future of clothing is personal,” states Andrea Madho, CEO & cofounder of Lab 141, a company that features cutting edge “made for me” technology.

Advancing personalization is possible when industry leaders come together on fit and tech. As VP merchandising and innovation at lingerie brand SOMA, Kathy Devine steered the launch of Somainnofit. The electronic bra fit technology uses sensors to scan body measurements that are transmitted via Bluetooth to a Somainnofit app, which provides fit recommendations regarding Soma bras available for purchase.

Earlier this year, Soorty, Pakistan’s largest vertically integrated denim mill, collaborated with Fabricant, an Amsterdam-based digital fashion house, to launch “the world’s first digital denim garment,” created totally in 3D with no fabrics touched, demonstrating the possibilities of customization in cradle-to-cradle production. Check out the video here: https://bit.ly/3fdXSkh

Investment is key to bring innovations like these to scale. In my view the issue is a matter of investing in a modern mindset as much as investment of money. The textile industry has a tendency to rely on the way things have always been done rather than being gung-ho early adopters of the latest tech. (Consider that we still use sizing standards set by the Department of Agriculture in 1939.)  Surely, if nothing else, our COVID experience has shown that they way we were, is not the way forward.

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