This morning I have woken up to the controversy about fit models/receptionists roles within our industry. I believe that ignorance in many areas of life is caused by lack of education, so today it is my aim to provide some education, not only to those outside of the fashion industry, but also to those clients we work with every day, on the importance of fit models.
Firstly, a fit model is not a photographic model. You will never see photos of a fit model in advertising. There may be numerous photos taken of your armhole, neckline or sleeve for the purpose of communicating pattern and fit issues but non require touch ups or make up. A fit model is solely for the purpose of fit and comfort and for immediate human feedback on issues that may affect the final customer (you) that cannot be obtained from a firm surface mannequin.
I think we need to take a step back further in the process to truly understand the importance of this role, and why a company such as Lorna Jane would in fact need someone in this role, so much so that it may be the majority of their job description with some light duties in between, such as answering the phone.
One of the first questions I discuss with all of our clients both in our mentoring program and as established companies is: who is your customer? Are you designing for an 18 year old or 45 year old, are they average height or tall? Are you trying to solve a fit issue that you have a problem with yourself such as big hips and small bust? Or are you just looking to fit to an Australian body shape in an industry of poorly fitting garments (see previous posts)? It is so important to establish this customer profile and more importantly to find a fit model that you can use for every fitting to ensure you are consistent in the fit of every garment in your range. With internet shopping on the rise it is essential that all garments in your range fit to a consistent measurement and shape to reduce returns and customer dissatisfaction.
I strongly suggest that you do not fit on your own body. Unfortunately we are all very critical of our own body shapes and you will be not be able to look at the garment objectively.
When choosing a fit model for your brand you are looking for the middle size of the size range. For Lorna Jane it is a size 10, so that when the pattern is graded up and down 5cm (made bigger and smaller) it will be the middle size of a 6,8,10,12, 14 size range. If you are working on a plus size range, that’s a size 18 model for a range of 14,16,18,20,22. They must have good proportions, average body length, average leg length, average shoulder slope. (I stress AVERAGE.) If a fit model does not fit into the exact shape that you need in the middle size the fit differences will exaggerate for smaller and larger sizes so it is important to be within your labels size guidelines. This does not stop you from using a curvy model if your range is for a curvy customer. No beefcake guys or tall waif thin girls. That is not average.
You can find fit models everywhere. For kids’ wear we ring children’s modelling agencies. There are specialist fit model agencies in fashion industries cities such as Melbourne and Sydney. I am always on the look out, at cafes, with my friends. It can become an obsession. They need to be available during the day and stay fairly consistent in size. We have a couple of fit models we use a lot. They are professional fit models, in that this is their full time job. They drive around all day to various businesses and charge good money for the service ($220 for 2 hr minimum). They have extensive knowledge of the fit of garments and can give great feedback, but they are hard to get. You need to book a week in advance. If you work with a model agency then you can ask to view a few models first in order to choose the one you like then Please STICK TO THE SAME MODEL!!! Changing models all the time makes it a waste of time, you need consistency to truly see the fit and changes that have been made to your patterns. We have used professional fit models to fit all the patterns on our sister website www.patternroom.com.au so you are in fact getting patterns that are fit to industry standards and real body shapes.
Now to address the receptionist/fit modelling controversy …fit modelling is hard! You are fitting a summer range in winter (and freezing) and a winter range in summer (and sweltering). You have to stand and turn and stand and change into a lot of clothes, comment on them and possibly get pins stuck into you in the process. Imagine clothes shopping and multiply this by 1000. Receptionist work is a bit of a reprieve in the middle of the fits. If a label makes 100 garments a month and each garment is fitted 3-4 times that is 300-400 garments tried on. If I was a fit model I would love to sit by myself and relax whilst answering the phone in between fit sessions. And they need to be available all the time in a company like Lorna Jane. You dont want them to go out and get a job elsewhere as a receptionist.
Oh and to the Sunrise presenter who measured a young lady’s waistline in the street, a waist measurement is taken on bare skin without your fingers in the way, so the 76cm waist you measured was probably a 72cm waist therefore a possible applicant for the Lorna Jane job.
I hope you are now a little more informed. Please give us a call if you would like to discuss your label’s fit and sizing issues on 03 9041 3488 or skype: sample.room.fashion