One Size Fits Nobody: New York Times

mermaidSignificant Other disparages I post so infrequently but it’s difficult for me to read my words through the spittle of an extended screed. Case in point, One Size Fits Nobody: Seeking a Steady 4 or a 10 courtesy of the New York Times which is but more pablum. I spent some time amusing myself, imagining how the conversation of assigning that story went down:

Editor: It’s been awhile since we’ve appeased the masses by skewering those stupid apparel industry people by writing about consumer’s favorite imaginary social ill -vanity sizing. Hey you, Stephanie, you could churn out an easy 1,000 words on it. You don’t have to do any heavy lifting, apparel people are stupid.

Stephanie: Sure thing. I have some great source material; like this chick who isn’t even in the industry but who looked at some Vogue magazines to develop an analysis of women’s sizing history to beef up my points. The apparel industry is so stupid that the circular logic and cursory “evidence” of her “research” that would get anyone in any other field of intellectual rigor laughed out of the room will fly right over their heads. Done well, I might be able to blame vanity sizing for everything from teenage pregnancy to the bombing of Dresden and on to the scourge of plastic cutlery! To be sure there is other research from someone with 30 years of experience making patterns and is an internationally renown authority on women’s clothing sizes who has been quoted by NPR, NY Times, WSJ, Forbes, Washington Post, Boston Globe, LA Times etc and whose site ranks much higher but her material is based on *math* -and of all things, she majored in economics- with a whole annoying slew of logic, charts and graphs that spans 16 entries and something on the order of 200,000 words! Sheesh, just her section on the history of women’s sizing is three separate entries and backed by data that I don’t want to read for a “business” cum fluff lifestyle piece like this. Continue reading One Size Fits Nobody: New York Times

The phlogistonists of vanity sizing

unicornI learned a new word today, Phlogiston [theory]. I’ll save you a click. In its strictest definition, it refers to

an obsolete scientific theory that postulated the existence of a fire-like element called “phlogiston”, which was contained within combustible bodies and released during combustion. The theory was an attempt to explain processes such as combustion and the rusting of metals…

And Phlogistonists are “scientists” and “researchers” who expend incalculable hours on pet theories for which there is no rational explanation. Consider within the context of my narrow domain, that of “vanity sizing”. One can find myriad mentions of it; researchers wax eloquent as to its ineffectiveness and detrimental effect yet where amid this bewildering compendium is quantitative research proving its existence?

Let us assume the phlogistonists academics are correct, there exists an unidentifiable ether with behaviors we cannot define or measure, we can only note its effects. Where is the body of scholarship within the needle trades itself to support this claim? We document everything. We write about mind boggling minutiae -on my site alone there are thousands of entries on arcane and possibly subjective matters as to the preferred sort of pencil to use when tracing patterns, does one cut a line away or leave it, whether one should use waxed vs colored paper to separate plies of a spread or the proper psi setting to adhere substrates -yet nowhere is any material, symposium, documentation, instruction, seminars, curriculum et cetera on the pivotal matter as to how to go about effectively “vanity sizing” one’s products to elicit greatest efficacy. Were the practice to exist as it is commonly believed, there would be volumes, millions of words on the practice. Yet, there are none. Where are the bodies? It must leave some evidence of its passage through the mores of our institutional landscape. Are we to suppose in these heady days of transparency, the inculcation and instruction of methods of vanity sizing remains an arcane blood secret amongst practitioners? Where exists the trade literature, the consultants, the mercenary service providers to instruct the proper ways to do this? They do not exist. Continue reading The phlogistonists of vanity sizing