NEW DELHI : Top apparel manufacturers and retailers are expected to meet in Mumbai in the first week of February to kick-start a project aimed at studying Indian body types to create an Indian size chart.

The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI), an apex body that represents over 45,000 apparel manufacturers and retailers, will be working on the ‘Size India’ project, jointly with the textiles ministry.

“We will rope in experts from America and Europe and conduct the study across 24,000 body types and in over seven cities," Rahul Mehta, president and chairman CMAI, told Mint.

The study will be conducted over three to six months and the new sizes could roll out by 2021, said Rakesh Biyani, part of CMAI’s managing committee and joint managing director at Future Retail, one of the country’s top retailers.

Representatives of companies such as Arvind Ltd, Aditya Birla Retail, Raymonds, and Future Group are expected to be present at the launch of the project, said Mehta.

“Size India as a project will really be one of the largest surveys of Indian consumers across men, women and kids to identify the standard sizing for Indian body types, define new standards, and make it easier for shoppers to identify their sizes," Biyani said.

CMAI has been asked by the textile ministry to lead the project since it has a larger connect with the industry and manufacturers that will ultimately adopt these standards, Biyani added.

The move comes after textile minister Smriti Irani recently reiterated the government’s plans to roll out ‘Size India’ to match sizing charts followed by major global apparel makers.

“I hereby present the central government’s resolve that ‘Size India’ project will soon be rolled out for the entire country, the first-of-its-kind project in the Indian history," Irani said at the Vibrant Gujarat event on 20 January.

The government along with apparel retailers has been mulling creating an India-specific size chart for several years. Currently, India does not follow any specific size chart when it comes to clothing, unlike US and European brands that have benchmarked their sizing guides across markets.

Most brands here, for instance, follow their own sizing charts that segregate apparel from extra small to large or follow numeric indicators borrowed from sizing charts of foreign countries.

Foreign brands, on the other hand, follow their international sizing charts even when they launch in India.

“This creates disparity in how Indian consumers shop," said CMAI’s Mehta.

Mehta said the need for India sizes is only more pressing now because of the country’s growing domestic apparel market that is expected to reach nearly $60 billion by 2022, according to estimates from consulting firm McKinsey, making India the sixth-largest apparel market globally.

For now, the study will focus on largely domestic retailers focused on selling to Indian shoppers.

However Biyani added that foreign retailers—that have gained more clout in India over the last few years—could also participate. “Anybody who is building a large business in India is welcome," Biyani added.

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