Apparel sizing and fit are difficult concepts to research and analyse if we look at the relationship the body and clothing (Loker et al, 2005). To make clothes fit the human body has to be measured. Because people are not the same and don’t have the same shape and measurements, people have to be measured individually (Homeofbob, N.D). These human measurements can be done in several ways. Nowadays body scanning technology has been introduced in the 20th century for the clothing industry (D’Apuzzo, 2007). With body scanning there can be easily obtain body shapes, angles and relational data points, which before with traditional measurement only an unlimited number of linear and nonlinear measurements of human bodies could be done (Simmons & Istook, 2003). Still a lot of designers use the old traditional way. But what are actually the advantages, disadvantages, similarities and differences of these two methods.

Traditional measurements

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Traditional measurement relies on the use of tools and equipment such as a tape measure. To measure the right point landmarks or circumferences at specific locations are used, which are specific points on the body are defined based on anatomical structures. These points are used to define body dimensions (Azouz et al, 2004)

There are a couple of disadvantages we can name when we talk about traditional measurements. One of the biggest is that two persons can never measure the same (Moenssens, 1971). Assessment of the reliability is defines operationally as the extent to which a measure is reproducible over time. The reliability of a measurement has two components which are precision and dependability. Of those two components, precision is the most important determinant of reliability (Mueller and Martorell, 1988). Measurements with traditional instruments an tools like a tape measure requires a lot of time to measure the human body and often not accurate (Gordon and Bradtmiller, 1992). Also using these old tools can become very difficult to use when it is used over long distances. Still there are people who still use the old traditional technique. Common people which use the tool, tape measure, are tailors, designers and stream-stresses. They design, sketch, stitch, hem as well as sew garments from fabric. These kinds of profession call for a tape measure with a lot more flexibility, since they will be measuring fabric and their client’s hips, waist, wrist, crotch, ankles, chest and thighs (Vniweb, 2011)

Body scanning

Body scanning is a three-dimensional technique that can be done in several ways, such as with light- , laser- or infrared scanners. With a 3D body scanner it is able to scan a large number of subject in a relatively short time. A 3D body scanner can measure besides linear measurements also tell the body shape, angles and relational data points of the human body (Simmons ; Istook, 2001). With the use of 3D body scanners, body measurement techniques can be non-contact, instant, and accurate. However 3D body scanning is similarly not without challenges related to landmarking (Simmons ; Istook, 2003). How each scanner establishes landmarks and takes the measurements should be established so that standardization of the data capture can be realized. Furthermore, some scanners such as used in this study require subjects to wear undergarments for scanning.

But the main goal of 3D body scanning is to the best fit for the consumers. Thereby it has been find that 3D body scanning is the solution for clothing mass customization (D’Apuzzo, 2010).


A disadvantage of body scanning technology is that a body scanning machine requires a big investment (Yu,2008), while the costs of traditional measurement technique is relatively low. Especially when designers only make pieces of clothing which are custom made for specific persons. When a design is made for masses of people like high street clothes the cost of a scanner is relatively low because of the amount of time that is needed is low plus the clothes are made to fit for mass customization. Also the use of the tools and equipment of traditional measurement is easy to understand. Everyone can measure, while by body scanning a skilled person is needed which has knowledge of the program and knows how to do the scan. Furthermore the equipment and tools of the traditional way are easy to carry and there can be measured anywhere while a body scanner stays at the same position. There are some portable body scanners, but they have less measurement to show then a regular scanner.

Also there are some scanners that don’t work with landmarks, so the don’t have the exact same measuring process as the traditional measuring. Therefore the general trend from the means in each size reflected that manually taken hip measurements were smaller than the 3D scanner measurements. But there is One issue that appears common to both traditional and scanning approaches to body measurement is a key ethical aspect of dealing with the moderately clothed state of a person being measured. Concerns regarding the partially clothed state of the body, physical contact during measurement and personal space issues were all considered by the fact that apart from height and weight, measurement was non-contact and in a private cubicle (Apeagyei, 2010).

3D body scanning technology allows measurements to be obtained in a digital format that could integrate automatically into apparel CAD systems without the human intervention that takes additional time and can introduce error (Istook & Hwang, 2000; Xu et al, 2002). Virtual models and fit trial can also easily obtained which help people with online shopping (Apeagyei, 2010).


Both measurements have there advantages and disadvantages. The body scanner is able to make product made-to-measure for mass customization and is time-saving. It will help the mass customization to help people get a better fit for good prices. This will be the best option for a big target group. Besides that the traditional measure technique will still be used, but in a smaller environment. Overall the body scan technique is the future to satisfy people.

Reference list

Apeagyei P. (2010). Application of 3D body scanningn technology to human measurements for clothing fit . International Journal of Digital Technology and its Applications, 4(7), 58-68.

Azouz, B. (2004). Analysis of human shape variation using volumentric techniques. Geneve: National resourch council.

D’Apuzzo, N. (2007). 3D body scanning technology for fashion and apparel industry. Hometrica Consulting (pp. 1-12). Zurich: Own publication.

D’Apuzzo, N. (2010). 3D body scanning technologies. International conference of 3D body scanning technologies (pp. 1-11). Lugano: Hometrica Consulting.

Gordon C., B. B. (1992). Interobserver Error in Large Scale Anthropometric Servey. American Journal of Human Biology, 4(1), 253-263.

Istook, C., & Huong, S. (2001). 3D body scanning systemss with application tot the apparel industry. Journl of fashion marketing & management, 5(2), 120-132.

King, K. (2011, 05 18). 3D body scanning of apparel sizing. Retrieved 11 3, 2011, from cottonsrevolutions:

Loker S., Ashdown S., Shoenfelder K.. (2005). Size-specific Analysis of Body Scan Data to Improve Apparel Fit. Journal of textile & apparel, technology and management, 4(3), 253-268.

Miller, S. (2011, 10 30). Find out who makes use of tape measure. Retrieved 11 3, 2011, from Vniweb:

Moenssens, A. A. (1971). Fingerprint Techniques. New York: Chilton Book Co.

Mueller, W., & Martorell, R. (1988). Reliability and Accuracy of Measurements.

Simmons, K., & Istook, C. (2003). Body measurement techniques. Journal of fashion marketing & management, 7(5), 306-332.

Sweetland, R. (n.d.). Human anatomy – external, internal, interactiona, health and emotions Concepts. Retrieved 11 04, 2011, from Homeofbob:

Xu, B., Huang, Y., Yu, W., & Chan, T. (2002). Body scanning and modeling for custom garment fit. Journal of textile & apparel, technology and management, 2(2), 1-11.

Xu B., Huang, Y. (2002). Three-dimensional scanning system for apparel mass customization. Journal of Optical Engineering, 41(7), 14-75.

Yu, W. (2008). Development of a three-dimensional anthropometry system for human body

Zwane, E., Sithole, M., & Hunter, L. (2010). A preliminary compareative analysis of 3D body scanner, manually taken girth body measurements and size chart measurements. International journal of consumer studies, 34(3), 265-271.

3D body scanning technology has made it feasible to measure large numbers of subjects in a comparatively short period of time.

Measurements extracted from 3D body scans can also inform a fit customization strategy, which generally involves altering existing patterns in reference to key body measurement inputs. Once obtained, the measurements are imported into made-to-measure software within the apparel CAD suite. Here, points of measure derived from the scan are compared to body measurements associated with the graded patterns for a product. In the case of a ladies jean, the largest circumference measurement (e.g. hip or seat) can be used to select the pattern size to alter. Once the size has been selected, pattern alterations are activated in response to discrepancies between the body measurements of the subject and the body measurement specification for the pattern.

Anthropometry, the study of human body measurement, provides information about the human shape variation to industrial design.

Traditionally, simple tools like tape measures and calipers were used to measure linear distances between landmarks or circumferences at specific locations. Although these tools are inexpensive and easy to use, they only provide limited shape information

Traditional anthropometry is characterized by measuring distances, circumferences and weights. All these values are one-dimensional. A further area of anthropometric research is measuring of human forces. These values must also be indicated as one-dimensional measures. All the called values show, according to the human variability, various distributions. In order to simplify the indication of this distribution, the 5th, 50th and 95th-percentiles are shown in the most anthropometric tables. By the introduction of computer technology, it becomes possible to create three-dimensional representatives of the human body called soft-dummies. The dimensions of these dummies, however, are always based on the one-dimensional level of the traditional measurements. In the last few years, however, new scanner technologies were shown by which a three-dimensional description of the body surface is possible.

By this technique, a very dense list of three-dimensional points is created. The position of these points depends on the arbitrary relation between the body to be measured and the position of the scanning system. That means that the measured points are not functionally related to a certain body point. So, it is not possible to carry out statistical analysis over these points. If, however, a soft-dummy is blown up in the shape defined by these scanner points, the parameters by which the dummy is described may be used for statistical analysis. This is really a new form of anthropometric measurement and application, which will get increasing importance in the future. With dummies, new additional abilities may be simulated. For instance, the dummy can be provided with forces, the dummy can be animated and so show movements, and the dummy can have contact with the virtual surfaces of a CAD-world and should show responsible deformations. For all these cases, new anthropometric data are necessary which jump over the border of traditional anthropometry.

In order to pick up these measures, new measuring systems must be developed. Three-dimensional force measuring equipment must be developed. Movement can be measured by the triangulation of markers. That is an introduced and established technique. However, in many test situations and, especially, in real life these markers obstruct the freedom of movement. Thus, new contact-less techniques must be developed in order to satisfy this demand. Also, the contact between body and surface (especially seats) must be investigated in a soft-dummy related manner. In order to use all these new data, a mathematical modelling is necessary, by which a prediction in situations which are unknown during the investigation phase is possible. A further advantage for the designer is the reproductive behaviour of the soft-dummy is opposite to a real person. By such a technique, the experience with living subjects is not refused, but the first approach will be much more human related than is possible on the basis of the present data material.

As well as linear measurements, scanning can easily extract a vast number of data types and measurements relating to shapes, angles, and relational data points (Simmons & Istook, 2001)

The measurements obtained using this technology is more precise and reproducible than those obtained through the traditional, physical measurement process. Measurement data can be renewed or revised at any time

One issue that appears common to both traditional and scanning approaches to body measurement is a key ethical aspect of dealing with the moderately clothed state of a person being measured. Concerns regarding the partially clothed state of the body, physical contact during measurement and personal space issues were all considered by the fact that apart from height and weight, measurement was non-contact and in a private cubicle.

The procedure confirmed that scanning technology has many advantages over traditional manual body measurement procedures: it is quick, efficient, non-contact (using white light technology) and generates efficient data for size charts, pattern generation and fit testing for clothing.

3D body scanning is similarly not without challenges related to landmarking (Simmons & Istook, 2003). Furthermore, some scanners such as used in this study require subjects to wear undergarments for scanning. Currently, capturing a ‘good’ scan in a posture that allows extracting specific measurement varies among systems. There are image-based problems; where the body sways and is never really still and also the impact of breathing.


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