Clothing Trend Swings to Alpha Sizing

By Bauknecht, Sara | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), June 8, 2014 | Go to article overview

Clothing Trend Swings to Alpha Sizing


Bauknecht, Sara, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Fashion loves buzz words. The latest ones: alpha sizing.

The phrase was the subject of a Wall Street Journal story last week that predicted that more apparel designers and brands likely will ditch numeric clothing measurements in exchange for alpha sizes small, medium and large (and sometimes extra-large sizes). Ever since, cyberspace has been swirling with questions about what this claim could mean for clothes - and the people who make and buy them.

For mass ready-to-wear designers and manufacturers, it's good news.

"It means more sizes can fit into an alpha size," says Rikki Hommel, a lead faculty member in the fashion design program at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Downtown. Rather than having to create a look in sizes zero through 12 or larger, an alpha size combines two or three different sizes into a single fit. (In other words, sizes 2, 4 and 6 might all make up a small in alpha sizing.) This means designers have fewer fits to figure out for each piece and save money as a result of the size cuts.

For consumers, however, the switch in size scales could bring varied shopping experiences. On one hand, it might be easier to find a desired fit for apparel with a boxier silhouette - with less guessing. (For example, if you want a tighter fit, go down a size. For a baggier one, try a medium or a large.) But seeking a more fitted, figure-flattering ensemble that cradles curves in all the right places could be trickier to track down.

The transition to alpha sizing also could mean differences in the types of fabrics designers use.

"You're going to see a lot more knit and spandex and comfort- wear fabrics," says Pittsburgh-based designer Kiya Tomlin. "Maybe we'll see a decline in the use of woven fabrics" because they don't have as much stretch and give. …

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