Indian Body Measurements - Free Apparel Industry Articles - (2023)


Department of Textile Technology,

Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi,

Hauz Khas, New Delhi-110016,

Phone: 2659 1417,


Anthropometric studies were conducted among young Indian women and men aged 18–24. A protocol for conducting anthropometric studies was developed and problems with existing body size systems were analyzed. The results were analyzed to understand the proportions and body dimensions of the population. Uni- and multi-dimensional analysis of anthropometric data was performed. Using a locally developed algorithm and a unique approach, accurate upper and lower body clothing sizes were suggested. For the first time it was possible to map the population of India to develop a clothing size system. User trials carried out with the suggested sizes showed that the fit was excellent.


The need to have a systematic and scientific system for measuring and classifying human bodies in India need no longer be emphasized for the development of a clothing size system. As we enter an era of unprecedented retail growth, this need becomes more acute. As the masses begin to visit malls for clothes, they are becoming aware of the fit, or rather the lack thereof, offered by various brands. Fit has been cited as one of the main criteria that determines the purchase of clothing, and thus can contribute to brands' popularity. Given the newness of India's mall culture, consumers are still on a steep learning curve and it's only a matter of time before they become fit-sensitive and frustrated by the lack of fit.

Anthropometric studies have been carried out frequently in India for the last 30-40 years. Some of these have been conducted by Home Science colleges and the results have been used in pattern development exercises for various age groups. Many other studies have been conducted to assess the nutritional status of population groups, but unlike US studies, very little information is available in the public domain about the results of such studies. Moreover, these studies were mainly limited to small, local groups of the population. A comprehensive India-wide study was conducted by Dr. KS Singh for the 1985 Anthropological Survey of India to investigate the effects of several parameters on the growth patterns of various ethnic groups in India. However, the measurements taken for anthropological research are significantly different from those required for the development of size charts for clothing production and therefore cannot be used for this purpose. Ergonomists have also conducted small studies to gather data for workplace design.

Recently, some major retailers in India have commissioned anthropometric surveys before launching their brands in the domestic market. These studies were often carried out by marketing organizations who were unlikely to have expertise in anthropometry, and therefore the data obtained were often unreliable. Besides that, the companies kept the results very close, perhaps as a trade secret, and again no information is available about the results or the analysis performed. Even when the studies were conducted as described above, the analysis was limited to calculating simple arithmetic means, percentages, and percentiles. Such results may not be used for mass production purposes. In conclusion it may be said that there is no record of a systematic anthropometrical survey of the whole of India ever having been carried out.

And so today in the Indian clothing market there are as many sizes and sizing systems as there are brands! The sizes are different, the nomenclature is different, and the size ranges are also different in each case. There is no way for a customer to buy their clothes without trying on countless clothes from all brands. On the other hand, there is no consistency in sizes even within the same brand, for example tops and bottoms. That is, a woman can wear a small (S) in her shirt, but a large (L) in her pants. All this creates a lot of confusion in the customer's mind, mainly because the exact body measurements for which the clothes are intended are not known to the customer, and there is often no correlation between clothing size and body measurements.

The reason why in India we don't even have a primitive sizing system for clothing is one - traditional Indian costumes mostly consisting of draped garment and any fine stitching required can be taken by a local tailor; secondly we did not have organized retail stores and thirdly we were not a fashion or fit conscious population. The need for a ready-made garment sizing system was thus never felt. As clothing preferences are now shifting from Indian to Western, the need for a sizing system is acutely felt. However, this does not mean that the so-called developed countries do not face problems in this area. The amount of research that has been done and the amount of literature that has been generated in the field of sizing and fit over the last 5 years around the world is phenomenal. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that there is no prestigious textile/apparel department or university in Europe or America that does not currently deal with garment sizing and fitting!!

The complexity of clothing sizes

The problem of clothing sizes is extremely complex and is also interdisciplinary; thus, the entire task of developing a dimensioning system is very capital- and time-consuming. UK size, runin 2000 it cost 1.2 billion and Size Sweden, ledtook 5years to completion. The amount of time and money required have been major obstacles to solving the issue of data collection and data analysis for clothing size. In addition, the development of sizing systems required input from a) Anthropologists (planning and conducting anthropometric studies) b) Statisticians and mathematicians (population sampling plan, statistical analysis and data) c) Patternmakers (selection of critical measurements) d) Garment technologists and designers (related issues) with production - size chart and fit). By far the weakest link, however, was the data analysis process. That is, how to process the huge amount of generated data in order to get the right set of sizes, which can be a framework for the form of clothing production. Simple statistics cannot process these data due to the inherent non-linear nature of the problem.

Most sizing systems in use today are flawed because they are based on a simple system of averages or percentiles - thus assuming that human bodies follow mathematical precision and increments in their shapes and sizes. In other words, every body must fit one of the sizes that some statisticians have come up with, taking the average of a given population of which you were or were not a part. Or even worse, some companies use professional models to test the fit of their clothes before they go into production!! So if someone doesn't have average figures or the figure of a professional model, you can't expect to find clothes to measure.

The analysis of the Indian population data in the current study shows that ~20% of the population corresponds to the dimensions of the average figure! What happens to the other 80%? With this understanding, it might be better to use a system where bodies don't have to match sizes, and sizes are designed to fit bodies – as they actually are. In other words, develop a sizing system that covers about 80% of the population. The 10-20% of the population not covered by the study consists of individuals who stand out or differ significantly in size or proportions from standard measurements. These must be included as special categories (e.g. plus size categories).

Clothing sizing also applies to different body proportions, such as waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), chest-to-hip ratio, and so on. This means that no single measurement can be taken as the basis of clothing size (most current systems do), instead some key measures must be identified for each type of clothing and the population must be classified based on these multiple dimensions. In addition, the number of size categories should be kept to a minimum so that inventory can be managed. Once the size groups are identified, it should be possible to determine how many people each size covers to facilitate stock production and inventory. All this adds to the complexity of the problem.

It is not easy to perform these complex analyzes given the enormous size of the data matrix obtained from anthropometric surveys. Fortunately, very powerful and sophisticated mathematical tools are now available. These, combined with current computing power, can be used to analyze the data and arrive at an appropriate sizing system—one that adequately covers a given population and provides a good fit for the intended users.

Work done at IIT Delhi

IIT Delhi's Department of Textile Technology has been engaged in research on garment sizing for 6 years. Below are some of the findings and lessons learned from these studies.

1. Anthropometric research

We have actively participated in the process of conducting anthropometric research for 2 years.

Data available from IIT Delhi

The latest, authentic data for the following groups is now available from us:

Young adults (18-24 lata)

1000 women

500 mand

The IPR for these datasets has been protected


Adults (24-50 lat)

Over the next few months we will conduct similar surveys in 5 regional zones for men and women in this age category.


Various colleges in Delhi were approached for surveys. Most customers were reluctant and only a few were finally persuaded to allow us to conduct the survey on their premises. Only those who agreed voluntarily were measured. Because of social inhibitions, it is generally very difficult to persuade subjects, especially girls, to agree to participate in this type of research. Such sentiments were also expressed by other researchers who conducted anthropometric studies at different times. After determining the location, specially designed posters were hung to alert the respondents to the purpose and objectives of the survey. Male and female employees have been thoroughly trained to perform accurate, consistent and repeatable measurements as recommended by ASTM D 6240.

Measurements were performed where possible in a closed room or room to ensure the privacy of the subjects. All measurements were taken on a level floor without carpets to ensure maximum accuracy. A calibrated tape measure, a stadiometer, and a digital scale were used to perform the study. For the most important girth measurements, a length of tape was wasted to properly locate body landmarks. The subjects were asked to stand upright, but in a natural position. All subjects were measured wearing well-fitting, minimal clothing and were barefoot. The measurements were taken in the correct order and in the same order for all subjects. The 29 measurements made on the young men are shown in the appendix, and the description is given in Table 1. 35 measurements were made for each woman.

Table 1 Body measurements of young men

No. S



weight (kg)




The height of the cervix


Mid-waist length in front


Top shoulder to chest


Chest width in front


Front waist


Main circuit


Circumference to the center of the neck


Chest circumference


waist measurement


Mid waist length at the back


Armpit depth


Shoulder width at the back


Back width


Back waist


waist height


step height


stride length


Step depth


Hip circumference


Thigh circumference


Knee circumference


Ankle circumference


arm length


arm length


arm circumference


Elbow circumference


Wrist circumference

The data has been thoroughly checked for errors or inconsistencies and cleaned.

Data analysis

A detailed statistical analysis of the raw data was performed to obtain a general understanding of the shapes and sizes that characterize India's young adult male and female population. Important insights were gained. Based on this analysis, the Indian male population was divided into 15 categories consisting of 3 categories based on height and 5 categories based on body shape or fall value. These categories provide a critical framework for developing a clothing sizing system for this group of people. The categories and population distribution within these categories are shown in Table 2. These categories are the same as those used by some European countries to describe their populations, but the intervals of decline for the Indian population have been found to be very different from them . Again, the drop ranges were not calculated by dividing the entire range by the required number of categories. Instead, a complex analysis of the population data was used to derive the categories that truly reflect the distribution in the population.

The range of drop values ​​obtained for this dataset is similar to those reported for Sweden, South Africa and Germany. But the range is quite different from the populations of France, Finland and Denmark.(John M. Winks, Textile Institute)It should be emphasized that our data are essentially very young adults who are more health conscious and therefore significantly leaner compared to middle-aged Indian men. Large stomach sizes are quite common in the higher age groups, and this trend is likely to show up when analyzing population data in the 26-45 age category. In general, Indian men can be found to be shorter and have less pronounced body shapes compared to their European counterparts.

Table 2. Percentage distribution of young Indian men (18-24 years) in different height/shape categories.

No. S.








































* Numbers may not add up to 100 as they have been rounded.

Multiple correlation analysis of anthropometric data showed that neck circumference, waist circumference, hip circumference and chest circumference are well correlated with weight, while cervical height and waist height are well correlated with height. However, height and weight alone have a very poor correlation. In general, at least one length measurement and one circumference measurement are required for a garment to fit well. The measures to be chosen will depend on the type of garment and the critical measurements for them.

Most current clothing sizing systems are also based on this assumption. In most cases, any single measurement, such as chest or hip circumference, is taken as the basis of the size, and all other measurements are calculated as a function of it. Such systems assume that if the mathematical correlation is high, the resulting measurements will also be accurate. This assumption may well be true in mathematical applications, but in garment manufacturing it invariably leads to a poor fit of the garment for most of the intended wearers. The example below illustrates this point.

It was found that the correlation between chest circumference and waist circumference for the above-mentioned population of young men is quite high (0.88). The graph shown in Figure 2 shows an average annual linear trend. However, it can be seen that there is also great variation in the population data. The analysis of this spread for part of the population (waist circumference 90-96 cm) is shown in Figure 3.

Indian Body Measurements - Free Apparel Industry Articles - (1)

Figure 1 Chart showing chest and waist measurements of young Indians

Indian Body Measurements - Free Apparel Industry Articles - (2)

Figure 2 Variation of waist circumference in subjects with a chest circumference of 90-96 cm

Figure 3 shows that for people with a chest circumference of e.g. 91 cm, the waist circumference changes from 71 cm to 86 cm if the outside of 91 cm is ignored. This is a range of 15 cm. Similarly, for a chest circumference of 93 cm, the waist varies from 72 cm to 86 cm in a range of 14 cm. It is this spread of data that makes simple math redundant when it comes to sizing. This means that, despite the high correlation, in a practical sense it is not possible to fit all people with a chest circumference of 93 cm to a waist circumference. This is because bodies come in all shapes and it is these shapes that are covered by the shape analysis, Table 2. But suppose a manufacturer wants to offer one size – what is the combination of bust and waist (shape) and how many people would be covered by this combination or size? This analysis must be performed for each combination of dimensions (sizes). A thorough understanding of data dispersion combined with complex multivariate analysis is necessary to identify and quantify the characteristic shapes and sizes found in a given population.

Algorithm for clothing size

Based on this understanding of these complexities, a special algorithm was developed to locate the most prominent sizes (defined as a combination of two or more body dimensions) found in a given population. The system is very flexible as it can run on any set of anthropometric data, the accuracy of the fit can be determined (by increasing or decreasing the tolerance) and the number of sizes can be specified. As the requirements for one of the above parameters become more stringent, the accuracy of another is compromised, so the optimal combination must be determined each time.

The anthropometric data sets generated were analyzed by software and sizes were generated for different categories of garments such as shirts, pants and jackets etc. The following size charts based on the new system are now available from the Department of Textile Technology, IIT Delhi.


Body size charts for outerwear for men aged 18-24


Size charts for the lower body of men aged 18-24


Body size charts for tops for women ages 18-24


Size charts for the lower body in women aged 18-24


The problem of developing a table of clothing sizes is extremely complex. But thanks to this preliminary research, a breakthrough was made. A system has been developed that addresses these issues and has been used to develop sizing charts for a small portion of the population in the 18-24 age group. While some progress has been made, a consolidated effort is needed to build an India-wide anthropometric database, classified by sex, age, socio-economic stratum and region – which would be a tremendous scientific resource. The data should then be properly analyzed and used to develop standardized size charts for the Indian population.

All stakeholders namely Government of India, apparel manufacturers and retailers as well as academia

the institutes must create a joint forum to debate the issues and initiate a joint project to undertake this gigantic activity. This is a model that has been successfully tested in every country in the world. No real progress can be made if each one works independently because each brand will have its own sizing system as well as sizing system, leaving the consumer completely confused as to what size is? The consumer can benefit only if stakeholders make a sincere effort to generate authentic data and then scientifically analyze it to generate size charts thoroughly tested in field trials across the length and breadth of the country. Finally, a common size labeling and size communication system must be developed. Finally, and most importantly, these size charts should be accepted and used as a standard framework by major Indian clothing manufacturers as Indian body size charts. The measurement data must be clearly indicated on all clothing sold and the consumer should be informed of the use and applicability of these size charts.Only then can buying clothes that fit well become an exact science, not a guess.

Attached file

Figure 1 (a) Circumference measurement, b) Front measurement (c) Back measurement, d) Seat measurement

Indian Body Measurements - Free Apparel Industry Articles - (3)

Indian Body Measurements - Free Apparel Industry Articles - (4)

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