Fit to Print

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Last week I helped out at the Carrie Parry Fit Trial and Trunkshow at Alvanon.  That’s a lot of information right there so I’ll back up.

Carrie Parry is designer based in NYC who, according to her FB page, is committed to “using mindfully sourced materials, supporting artisans worldwide and our environment for future generations to come.”  So clearly she’s got her finger on the pulse of the future of fashion and is always collaborating on something cool.  Speaking of cool collaborations, for her lookbook, she used “non-model” models who took pictures of themselves using a remote camera trigger.  Here are a couple looks from her Fall 2012 collection.:

These are REAL people, not models.
These are REAL people, not models.

Next up, Alvanon.  In case it hasn’t become clear how vast the fashion industry is, here is another segment that proves the point:  Alvanon is an “apparel fit expert” that collects and analyzes information about body types around the world in order to conquer the ever elusive challenge of “fit.”  If you think about it, it’s a herculean task riddled with psychological, socio-economical, and ever-changing aesthetic and biological implications.  It’s like defining umami or staying in tune.  Here’s their holiday picture from their FB page that I found magnificent and hilarious:

All baby dressforms wish for clothes for Christmas.
All baby dressforms wish for clothes for Christmas.

So Carrie Parry had the moxie, chutzpah, self-confidence, to invite people to try on her clothes, complain about the fit answer some fit questions, and then hopefully buy a few items.  I thought it was very brave of her to do this given all the hangups people have about their bodies and what they perceive as good fit – I have done my fair share of alterations and it’s rarely about the garments.  But feedback is feedback and I think she walked away with an immense amount of information about who her customer is and what they want and expect from their garments.

Each person tried on about 5 different garments: top, skirt, pant, dress, jacket. Then, we had them tell us how it fit on scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” Some of the fit questions were “This top is comfortable” and “On this top, the bust/waist/hip feels…” and “This top fits better than what I normally wear.”  Even more specifically were questions about the range of motion in the armhole, how it feels across the back and if the bicep was too big or too small.  Sleeves are a torture test in fit because while you need to be able to function in your clothes, you also don’t want a ton of excess fabric when you’re standing still.  Getting people to move is really valuable. I always have people hug and pretend to drive in fittings.  For bottoms, I make sure they squat and sit, and always, always, always take a walk around the room.

Finally, I got to do it:

Now my hangups come out.
Now my hangups come out.

I loved this dresscoat and found it fit me but was surprised (and pleased) that it was a size or so down from what I tend to wear.  I guess that’s better than having it go up – but I try not to look at sizes anymore since we’re all weirdly shaped and have differing expectations about how true a size is.  We all know by now that there is no consistency between brands either.  So I’m glad Alvanon is getting to the bottom of this.  It’s a vast study that everyone seems to have a strong opinion on.

So when you’re trying on those ugly, ironic Christmas sweaters from Urban Outfitters and shopping for those special L.L. Bean Chinos for your Dad or sneaking in a gift for yourself from this amazing selvage denim company that you’ve been wanting a pair from FOREVER and you don’t care they only make them for men and it’s Christmas so why the hell not, take a moment to consider what fit they intended, if you think it’s accurate, or if they’re just making it all up.

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