How to achieve the Perfect Fit
The crucial metrics brands need to consider when creating garments with optimal fit.
Fit was the main topic at LTP’s London bi-annual Sport & Outdoor Network event. The keynote session hosted by LTP’s Julija Minkeviciute and Jurgita Sirvydaite unpacked the complex task of how brands can achieve the perfect fit.
Starting by posing the question
“Does the perfect fit really exist?”
The duo highlighted how much fit varied from brand to brand with examples of leggings and cycling jersey patterns stacked on top of each other. With a few millimeters here and there, the stark differences between each pattern are plain to see but the answer of which pattern achieves the perfect fit is more complex. Sirvydaite explains
“It’s certainly the right question, what is the perfect fit? Unfortunately, there’s not a one-size fits all answer. The perfect fit is influenced by 4 main factors: body shape, fabric, posture, and construction. To achieve the perfect fit, we need to have the perfect combination of decisions based on these factors.”
Factor 1: Body Shape
Brands must ask themselves who their target consumer is. This should form the foundation of the brand.
It’s vital to define this metric because although every body shape is different, there are certain similarities. For example, where the target consumer lives in the world can affect the size and shape of their body. Asian sizes are a prime example of this, they tend to run smaller compared to US or UK sizes. New Scientists supports this suggesting
“Studies by anthropologists have revealed that the width of the human body varies by about 25 per cent between different populations.”
The consumers build can also be influenced by age. Older adults tend to have higher levels of body fat overall, said to be caused by a slowing metabolism and gradual loss of muscle tissue.
Moreover, body shape can also be defined by activity. For example, weightlifters and CrossFit athletes tend to be more muscular whereas marathon runners or endurance athletes tend to be leaner.
To illustrate the variation in body shape, the team present 3D renders of the same pattern base on 3 different size avatars with different body measurements all within the range of a size medium. The image shows the pattern is the perfect fit for the middle avatar. The avatar on the left has a bigger chest measurement, therefore the same pattern has more wrinkles at the chest, whereas the avatar on the right has wider shoulders and as a consequence more wrinkles in that area.
In the quest for the perfect fit brands must first define their target consumers body shape. Sirvydaite gives the following advise
“When brands are creating their base fit, our suggestion is to use 3D to see how that base fit looks on a wider range of body measurements within that size. For example, render the pattern on several avatars with different body measurements within the range of a size medium and see how the garment fits on a wider range of bodies.”
The technology has greatly improved the ability to obtain the perfect fit as there are no limits as to how many different avatars can be created in 3D.
Factor 2: Fabric
Fabric has a huge impact on the perfect fit. The different weights, thicknesses, textures, finishes and treatments all effect the drape and fit of the garment. For this reason, Sirvydaite suggests to
“Always develop a product in the original fabric”
Illustrating the point, the team present a 3D render of 3 outcomes of the same cycling jersey with the same pattern base, avatar and posture but different fabrics. In the first option the fabric is polyamide with elastane. In the second option the fabric is 100% polyester and in the third option polyamide. The first option with the fabric base set as polyamide with elastane is the best fabric solution for the garment as there are far fewer wrinkles when the garment is in use. Sirvydaite warns even when fabrics appear similar in swatch format, they can still act completely different in practice.
Similarly, a second 3D render of 3 outcomes of a woven jacket is presented. Again, using the same pattern base, avatar, posture and this time even the same fabric composition but different weights. On this simulation Sirvydaite confirms the heaviest fabric gives the best result.
The team recommend building a 3D fabric library in order to get the most accurate 3D renders and therefore move towards achieving the perfect fit.
Factor 3: Posture During Intended Use
The third factor impacting the perfect fit is determined by the garments end-use. The consumers posture or position when wearing the garment is key to ensuring the optimal fit. Garments must be put through their paces ‘in situ’. From running, jumping, lifting or cycling, in-workout testing is key to allow brands to see the fit and movement of the garment in motion.
Take cycling as an example, the fit of the garment when the athlete is cycling in the seated position is very different to how the garment fits when the customer is standing. To illustrate this point the team present a 3D render of the same jersey in different postures. Option one shows the avatar standing. In this position the jersey appears wrinkled at the back but in option 2 where the garment is shown in-use the wrinkles disappear as this is the optimal fit position for this garment. Sirvydaite states
"What’s important to note here, is if the fabric is less elastic, the garment will not look perfect like a second skin when standing, if optimal fit is achieved for the seated position.”
Taking a deep dive into cycling, the team explain that the back stretches due to the riding position, therefore the back panel of the pattern must be wider to accommodate and as a consequence the front panel must be narrower. For bibs the seated posture means patterns should feature a longer back rise and shorter front rise. Legs are also bent in this position, therefore articulation in the knee area is recommended.
When the cyclist is sitting the shoulder rolls to the front changing the stretch of the sleeve. In this instance to accommodate this motion and achieve optimal shoulder fit, the sleeve head must be turned to the front. Sirvydaite states
“To achieve the perfect fit in a cycling jersey in a seated position is really challenging because of the head notch position. On the image below the red line shows the natural sleeve center. When the consumer is standing, the head notch goes through the center of that line, but for the bike posture, the head notch must be moved to the front. How much to move can be different depending on how the brand wants the garment to look and the specific cycling posture the garment is designed for whether this be high, medium or low back position. If the head notch is turned a lot, it will not look the best in the standing position, but it will be like a second skin in a very deep-seated posture.”
Brands must decide whether to focus on how it looks when standing or how the product fits or performs in-use.
The same logic applies to multiple disciplines. For the perfect runners fit garments should not restrict arm motion and leg oscillations, whilst yogis need garments with high stretch to hold challenging poses for long periods.
Thanks to advancements in 3D technology, the team can test the garment in multiple postures or positions and as a consequence can analyze the fit map which highlights areas of stress in the garment. The team can then pre-emptively solve any fit issues which may arise.
Factor 4: Construction
Last but by no means least, the fourth factor effecting fit is construction. Cut lines and seams have a massive impact on fit. The team illustrate the point by showing four jerseys, two with raglan sleeves and two with set-in sleeves. Sirvydaite explains
“For the styles with raglan sleeves it’s more difficult to get the perfect fit during intended use [seated position] because the pattern cutter cannot rotate the head notch. In set-in sleeves the head notch can be moved more easily to accommodate the desired posture. If brands wish to use raglan sleeves for design purposes, I recommend using more elasticated fabrics that can stretch further during intended use. For heavier, less elasticated fabrics a set-in sleeve is optimal when trying to create the perfect fit. However, darts can be used to enhance the fit of a raglan sleeve on heavier fabric bases. “
The amount of seams is also a contentious issue. On the one hand, seams can help shape a garment, on the other they can chafe or rub during intended use so brands need to think strategically about every seam placement. The team provide a deep dive into cycling bibs. Option one uses diagonal seams at the hips. This seam positioning will avoid wrinkles around the thigh are in the seated position but brands also need to be mindful as these seams may also be felt by a cyclist when riding. As a general rule the more seams used, the easier it is to avoid fabric wrinkling when the rider is seated. However some cyclists prefer less seams for better close-to-skin comfort. The second option features vertical seams to the front and back which again can help with in-use shaping but can also cause skin irritation. Option three sees the removal of the vertical seams to the front but keeps the back vertical seams. Option four is the reverse, the removal of the back vertical seams but features front vertical seams. Sirvydaite shares LTP’s advise
“When you have less seams, it’s better to use a softer fabric (e.g. Sofileta’s compression interlock), and for more technical, stiff garments, with less drape employ more seams to create the perfect fit.”
In conclusion body shape, fabric, posture and construction are all intrinsically linked, and brands must work together with their manufacturer to balance each component if they aim to achieve the perfect fit.
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LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, cycling, outdoor, urban performance, performance running and organic & lifestyle apparel. LTP was established in 1991 and now spans two continents - Europe and Asia with 6 fully owned factories. Our European Innovation Centre is located in Kaunas, Lithuania and our Asian Innovation Centre is located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We have a bluesign partner factory in all 5 countries where we operate (Lithuania, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus and Vietnam).
LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Furniture producing in eleven fully-owned factories.