As we the working sort toil away day in and day out, it often comes to us as a tragedy when we realize we have to shop for Eid, a wedding or even new work clothes. Tragedy because even though most of the clothing retailers call their offerings off-the-rack they are rarely off the rack, nothing really fits right. I must have read almost 30 write-ups and hours of TV coverage in which these designers and brand personnel tell you we have ready to wear product offerings so people don’t have to go through hassles of visiting tailors. But are we really better off with all these prêt wear stores? And why is it that its easier to find a fitted pair of jeans than finding a fitted kurta or tunic?
Running in and out of stores and malls, one gets to learn that no two kurtas are the same. The small you get from store A might be Medium from store B and so on so forth, in some cases you might get away with an inch extra around the waist but if the sleeves, length and bust measurements all tend to vary it look shabby. You starting looking at a model in the advertisement or a celebrity at some event and the clothes just fit them to a T. And then there are rest of us who can’t ever find a piece that doesn’t gape here or ride up or slouch down or have about four yards of extra fabric. These are the times that you start wondering if you are giraffe, a cow or a midget.
In Europe, Japan and North America the sizes are standardized, manufacturers tend to follow them stringently for trade and legal reasons, there are even ISO standards for streamlining these. However clothing manufacturers here tend to follow their own judgments and have varying standards so to speak.Those designing for retail often try to create pieces that are ‘ONE SIZE FITS ALL’ by creating shapeless square rucksack cuts to be safe and the shirts are made long so that they are even ok for tallest people. The very popularity of these tent like silhouettes paired with stretchable bottoms is due to the fact that there are so many people out there who cannot find clothes that truly fit. Adding Lycra is so much easier than tailoring clothes to fit the nuances of the human body form.
Umair Tabbani who has been running his sister’s namesake luxury label Sania Maskatiya opines that “although people are getting averse to making innumerable trips to tailors however this doesn’t mean ready to wear has completely taken over as some women still prefer to design their own clothes and get them stitched by their tailors. “To cater to these needs they even offer customization options with their prêt options. Although their products are cut on European sizes they have come up with a special” Medium Large” considering there were a lot of women who were bigger than medium and smaller than the large.
Daaman which is another pretwear brand aimed at urban women have a different approach to tackle the bad fit fiascos. Maleeha, Daaman’s Creative/Design Head has managed to create their own sizing guidelines that are more in line with South Asian body norms and aesthetics.Often she is compelled to edit designs to conform to fit issues and manufacturing challenges.They offer length alterations but she says pret is not at the stage to completely take over because relying on pret alone would probably get too expensive for a lot of people.
However not all brands go to such great lengths to provide their customers such product offerings.Most manufacturers shall continue to make products that fit their narrow view of bodily proportions, or go on to justify bad fits as some quirk in that specific pattern or design.Fashion councils who claim to make fashion designers “business friendly” seem to have skipped the uniform sizing issues as well.It could be about any number of factors, all of which are utterly unrelated to me, my figure, my body, and my value as a human being. All we want is clothing that fits us in the right places.
So where does it leave us? How do we end up all looking all fit and dapper? The trick to get it right every time is to ignore the actual size numbers/tags , find something that fits you at the widest place, and then have it completely altered to fit by tailor. No matter what people say there are some situations in which you can’t completely rely on off the rack ready to wear clothing. If your body is unusual you have to have a tailor. They often turn out to be a bigger blessing than a midnight snack of Nutella cupcake.
P.S.An edited version of the same appeared in Express Tribune newspaper!