Concept-to-Spec In Brief - January 2006


Time's Up for the Hourglass Research shows most dominant female form is the rectangle.

"We can talk all day about measurements, but actually a 32-inch waist with a larger hip [vs.] a smaller hip is going to make a very big difference to the cut of the pant," says Janice Wang, CEO of AlvaProducts.

Wang is talking about the results of a study conducted in partnership with Dr. Cindy Istook of North Carolina State University. The study analyzed results from the [TC]2 Size USA survey to assist the apparel industry in identifying the true body shapes of its target market. Individual measurements are not as important as the sum total of the body type they describe; it is more important to evaluate the body as a unified whole, says Wang.

By taking this approach, apparel brands will be able to tackle some of the fit issues that plague the industry -- poor-fitting clothing is one of the most common reasons that women return apparel to stores, she says.

A root cause of many of these ill-fitting garments is the underlying industry misconception that the hourglass figure is the dominant body shape of American women today. Wang says that most of the customized fit mannequins it produces for its clients, which she says represent some of the biggest brands on the market, are formed in an hourglass shape and represent women from a size missy 8 to a size plus 20.

Yet research from the study shows that the hourglass figure is the least dominant shape of women, making up only 8.4 percent of the 6,318 U.S. women scanned, and that it almost does not exist in women larger than a size 8. Because of this misconception, many women are unable to find clothes designed to fit their body shape, and apparel brands are losing business from this large untargeted segment of the population, says Wang.

In her research, Istook defined nine body shapes which were then trimmed to four dominant, basic types. With the measurements and samples of body scans, AlvaProducts has produced mannequins to represent these four main body shapes, which are described as follows, in order of representation among U.S. women today.

n Rectangle Shape: The bust and hips are basically the same circumference, although the hips can be .85 inches larger than the bust. The waist is less than nine inches smaller than the bust. This shape made up 46.12 percent of the sample.

n Spoon Shape: The hips are larger than the bust by two inches or more. The waist is less than 9.25 inches smaller than the bust. This shape made up 20.92 percent of the sample. n Inverted Triangle: The bust is 3.6 inches or larger than the hips, and the waist is less than nine inches smaller than the bust. This shape made up 13.83 percent of the sample.

n Hourglass: The bust and hips are basically the same circumference, although the bust can be up to one inch larger than the hips. The waist is then nine inches or more smaller than the bust. This made up 8.40 percent of the sample.

n Other shapes made up 10.72 percent of the sample.
By creating models for each shape, AlvaProducts will help the industry translate women's body shapes into meaningful terms, and to make the shift away from the hourglass figure, concludes Istook.  
-- Jordan K. Speer

PLM Coming on Strong
Liz Claiborne Selects PTC for Enterprise PLM
Liz Claiborne Inc. is adopting PTC's retail, footwear and apparel solution for its enterprise product lifecycle management (PLM), company-wide across its 42 brands.

The technology uses Windchill, PTC's web-based product data management and collaboration tool, which will help Liz Claiborne optimize its global product development processes, allowing the company to manage product data and images, and enabling collaboration on designs both internally and with global suppliers.

In turn, improvement of its product development processes will help to transform the company to a highly integrated supply chain development model, said John Sullivan, senior vice president of systems, sourcing and service, Liz Claiborne."Supply chain optimization is integral to developing and delivering compelling, trend-right products in an increasingly competitive business environment," he said. For more information:

Freeborders Releases New Version of PLM Suite for Apparel Retail
Freeborders has introduced PLM Suite 3.5, the latest release of its product lifecycle management software solution for retail. The solution is designed to enable retailers to streamline the development processes.

The new release has been beta-tested
by customers including J.Jill and Sara Lee Courtaulds, and features enhanced manufacturing and costing visibility, improved data integration and the release of FB Source, a new fully-integrated sourcing management application.

FB Source enables retailers to further reduce lead times by managing vendors more effectively, Freeborders reports. Features include RFQ management, real-time web-based vendor evaluations and sourcing plans. Other enhancements to Suite 3.5 include new business planning capabilities in FB Line Optimizer and multiple-page storyboard creation in FB Storyboard. For more information:

Designed Specifically for the Fashion Market
Gerber Technology has developed a new PLM solution, Fashion Lifecycle Management (FLM), which the company reports is designed to meet the specific needs of the fashion market. FLM, which the company calls a "concept to P.O." solution, combines Gerber's WebPDM 5.1 product development management software with an apparel PLM workflow solution.

FLM caters to the specific needs of the fashion industry, which are significantly different from those of discrete manufacturing, such as automotive and aerospace manufacturing, says Holly Beum, director, software product management.

Gerber's Fashion Lifecycle Management solution complements and integrates fully with WebPDM and includes image collaboration, project management functionality, product specifications and versioning and integrated workflow. Gerber FLM allows its users to track the progress of fabrics, trims and approvals and share that information globally, which improves task management and allows managers to track processes so that they can more easily identify bottlenecks and adjust workflows throughout the supply chain. For more information:

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