t-shirt and jeans on models of a variety of shapes

Shop by fit is the latest in the personalisation trend that’s spreading across every retail sector. A series of numbered sizes allow shoppers an approximate fit, but nothing that incorporates the different states and shapes the human body can come in. Public opinion on clothing sizes has been dire for years, and that’s why the rise of fit-specific ranges is on the up.

Shop by fit has increased dramatically in recent years, with a 42 percent increase in tall-fit apparel and a 128 percent increase in petite-fit apparel in the UK this year. This likely comes down to the diversity drive. Consumers that aren’t modelesque are searching for clothing that makes them look good, and shop by fit does this.

Plus-size, petite, and tall are sections that can be found in most high street stores today, and maternity is climbing to the same position. Until only a century ago, made to measure clothing was the norm – these shape-specific ranges are a modern, mass-market take on personalised garments.

The proliferation of online stores that offer shop by fit – ASOS, Boohoo, Showpo and others – means stores both online and physical need to include shop by fit sections to retain customers. Increasingly, fit diversity is becoming the norm.

Jacqui Markham, design director at ASOS, has stated that the company’s primary drive to create niche size ranges is the global nature of its customer base. The company wants its customers in Italy to feel as catered to as those towering above them in The Netherlands.

Companies like ZOZO go one further than shop by fit and modernise made to measure for the digital age. ZOZO is a Japan-based company that allows customers to capture a 3D image of their body from home. They can then order clothing from the company that’s made to fit.

Nordstrom is bringing back made to measure and updating it with its Custom Suit Visualiser. This interactive tool allows customers to see a suit on an avatar of themselves, allowing a perfect fit without having to try anything on.  “It’s been a big hit with our customers,” said vice president for Men’s Clothing and Furnishings Paul Doherty. “Customers define great service as convenience, ease and experiences in which they are in control.”

The main problem for retailers looking at fit personalisation is scaling. Made to measure cannot be scaled in the same way as traditional sizes, which means shop by fit is the perfect compromise. With instant market response available thanks to online shopping, well-loved products can be quickly re-measured for petite, tall, plus-size, and maternity and sent out to the market.