SizeUK - Results from the UK National Sizing Survey

In July 2001 SizeUK, a collaboration between the Department of Trade and Industry, leading British retailers and academics announced the first ever UK National Sizing Survey.

Lead College:London College of Fashion

Between July 2001 and February 2002 over 1.5 million measurements were taken from more than 11,000 people across the UK using [TC]2 bodyscanners, a revolutionary 3D body scanning system. The survey has since been used as a basis for other sizing surveys, including SizeUSA.

Previously, the only comparable national sizing survey carried out in the 1950's used manual equipment to measure female subjects (previously men have not been measured). The new technology uses a series of white light stripes projected onto the subject via six projectors; the subject's body distorts the light and six cameras capture these distortions to obtain 130 measurements within seconds for each person, accurate to within 2mm. Volunteers were chosen across three national regions to represent both genders, across seven different age groups from 16 years to 95 years, taking into account ethnicity and socio-economic factors.

Experts from University College London, London College of Fashion, Mark Winston Plc and Shape Analysis Ltd worked for 18 months analysing the data and made interesting discoveries, not only about average sizes in the UK, but also how we compare to Britons of the 1950s and to our American counterparts. The analysis of the data was managed by Jeni Bougourd at London College of Fashion, under the supervision of Professor Treleaven, Director of SizeUK, based at UCL.

A press event was held on 1 September 2004 where representatives from SizeUK, leading British retailers, London College of Fashion and University College London announced results from the analysed national data including, amongst other interesting findings: 

  • Women - average bust, waist and hip size
  • Men - average chest, waist and hip size
  • Average height and weight of men and women
  • The tallest and heaviest age groups
  • Comparison between 1950s and today's UK women
  • Comparison between average figures for UK and USA
  • Average shapes for UK men and women

See all the results in the SizeUK Results Full

Currently seventeen leading retailers have access to a suite of sophisticated software tools enabling them to interpret and make use of the full range of SizeUK data for future clothing ranges. SizeUK and Bodymetrics, who host the online database of information, hope that more retailers will purchase the data allowing them to conduct their own targeted and customised analysis based on their customer profile.

The scope for using the data is extensive. The results of the SizeUK survey will affect not only the retail market, where improved fit and shape should reduce customer returns and increase production efficiency, but will also assist the motor and travel industries through better understanding of ergonomics. Scientific studies can also benefit; using a national profile of size, weight and shape, Body Mass Index (BMI) can be calculated across a national platform, with special relevance to current concerns about obesity.

Participating retailers

With special thanks to Arcadia, Bhs, Debenhams, Freemans, GUS, Marks & Spencer.

Other participating retailers: Grattan, House of Frazer, John Lewis, Littlewoods, Monsoon, N Brown, Oasis, Redcats, Rohan, Speedo, Tesco.

Data Analysis Team 

  • Richard Allen, Shape Analysis

  • Avy Tahan and Bernard Buxton, UCL

  • Mark Winston, Mark Winston Research

  • Peter Grant Ross and Jeni Bougourd, LCF

  • Yannis Duros, Somavision

What is Body Scanning?

Scanners, which resemble roomy photo booths, map the body shape in a matter of seconds. The scanner projects a series of white light stripes onto the person being measured via six projectors. Six cameras capture the distortions created by the body - the way the stripes curve over the subject describes the 3D shape. From this the scanner produces a so-called 'point cloud' of 100,000 - 200,000 points which is then 'skinned' and the body 'landmarks' - shoulders, chest, navel, hips etc - are identified using image processing software. Finally a virtual tape measure is applied relative to the body landmarks to extract 130 key sizes and shape measurements.

The UK has spearheaded the use of scanning technology to gather sizing information. Several European countries are taking the UK's lead and are replicating the work of SizeUK in a bid to harmonise European sizing.