On 28 February 2013, Shape GB published the results of the first
comprehensive measurement survey carried out on children, which
aims to update the publicly available British Standards Institution
(BSI) standard based on 1978 data, and the 1990 children's
retail sizing (private) standards of Marks & Spencer.
Who – Shape GB is a collaborative project
between six major UK retailers – Tesco, Marks & Spencer,
Next, Monsoon, Shop Direct and George at Asda, jointly accounting
for 48 percent of the UK children's wear market – five UK
universities, and specialists in retail sizing surveys and 3D
scanning (Alvanon and Select Research).
What – A two phase process: First the
measurement of 2,500 boys and girls aged 4-17 throughout the UK
over two years using 3D body imaging scanners. Second, analyzing
the measurements of the target group of new-borns to four year olds
– results of which are expected to be published by Shape GB
in Autumn 2013.
Where – Because the Shape GB study
focused on UK children only and was initiated by UK retailers and
universities, it remains to be seen whether this excellent
initiative will result in similar (harmonized) measurement projects
within continental Europe.
Why – As the last standards for
children's wear measurements were based on data from 1978 and
1990, the participating UK retailers agreed there was a pressing
need to update the existing standards, and to ensure that these new
common standards accurately reflect body shapes of children
One of the findings of the study carried out by Shape GB is that
while children have only slightly grown in height since the study
carried out by Marks & Spencer in 1990, they have grown
significantly larger in girth. The average 11-year-old boy, for
instance, now has a chest measurement of 78.5 cm (10 cm wider than
captured by the 1990 study), with a waist of 70 cm (8.5 cm wider)
and hip measurements of 80.2 cm (7 cm wider); the average height of
an 11 year old boy has gone up by just 3.6 cm since 1990. Similar
evolutions in measurement were found for 11-year-old girls during
Another interesting finding is that there is less variation
within sizes when children are grouped by height rather than by
age: it is more likely that a 104 cm tall child will have a waist
of X cm, rather than a 10 year old being 104 cm.
"Ed Gribbin, president of
fit solutions specialist Alvanon, expressed the advantages of the
Shape GB study as follows: "Everyone will benefit.
Manufacturers will have a single common standard for gauging fit,
improving speed and accuracy in the quality control process and
ultimately saving money. Retailers will have fewer returns due to
fit, while consumers will find that children's sizing is more
accurate and consistent regardless of where they
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