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Development of a Conceptual Model for Anthropometric Practices and Applications Regarding Complete Garment Technologies for the UK Women's Knitwear Industry

Brownbridge, KM (2012) Development of a Conceptual Model for Anthropometric Practices and Applications Regarding Complete Garment Technologies for the UK Women's Knitwear Industry. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

To create garments that fit the body, anthropometric data must be utilised within the product development process. When producing woven garments a relationship between the garment and the body is determined at various different stages. This includes the construction of the basic block, the pattern making process and fit trials. The utilisation of anthropometric data within the manufacture of knitwear constructed and shaped on flat-bed machinery is not well documented. Because knitted fabric is extensible knitted garments have the ability to stretch and mould around the body. Determining the dimensions of these garments therefore must be considered specifically. The methods used to manufacture fully fashioned garments are also completely different and practitioners have to work within a limited set of parameters when creating the garment shape. Traditional fully fashioned garments are knitted as panels and then constructed. Advanced complete garment technology can knit, shape and construct a garment three dimensionally. Those at the forefront of technology development claim it provides the manufacturer with many benefits including improved fit. The utilisation of new technologies has been advocated as a way for UK knitwear manufacturers under threat from cheap imports to remain competitive. However the pace at which the technology has advanced has led to concerns about whether designers and technicians have the skills to fully exploit the machine capability and realise the potential benefits. Certainly to produce knitted garments with improved fit implies that the development process must utilise anthropometric data. Potential improvements in the knitted garment will only be of benefit if they are recognised and appreciated by the consumer An investigation to evaluate the utilisation of anthropometric data within the development of complete garments and the impact of complete garment technology on product development was conducted. Mapping the UK industry provided a sampling frame for case studies with manufacturers utilising complete garment technology. The research employed qualitative strategies of data collection, including interviews and case studies. An analysis of consumer preferences regarding complete garments was also conducted using focus groups with women between the age of 40 and 55. This informed the development of a theoretical framework for female fit preferences relating to knitwear. The results revealed that seven companies were utilising complete garment technology within the UK. Case study analysis provided evidence to show that anthropometric data is not utilised within the development of complete garments but pre-established garment measurement is applied instead. The relationship between the garment and the body is only evaluated and determined during fit trials. Practices were heavily influenced by outdated methods and information which impeded the ability to design and develop complete garments autonomously. In addition designers and technicians do not have the skills to conceptualise and develop the 3D garment in relation to the body. Consequently they are reliant on the machine builders as the only providers of garment templates and skills support. The ability to create garments with fit improvement was also found to be hindered by this evident skills gap. In terms of garment fit, focus group analysis revealed that female consumers had very specific preferences that related to their body size and shape. They demanded garments that provided flattering fit and the theoretical framework reveals how this flattering fit is defined. Finally data from all the stages of the research was triangulated to develop a conceptual model for anthropometric practices and applications regarding complete garment technologies for the UK women’s knitwear industry.

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