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Fashioning the Right Fit: How to Select a Fit Model for Your New Apparel Brand

The fit of your garments is one of the most important factors in your brand’s success. If your apparel doesn’t fit your customer right then it will lead to customer complaints, returns, and zero brand loyalty.


So how do you nail down a perfect fit for your brand? First, you need to understand your target customer and build a size range and size chart that fits their unique needs, desired fit, and body type. Unsure of who your target customer is or how to build a size range and chart that fits them?


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Once you’ve decided on your size range and built a size chart it’s time to select a fit model that falls within your sizing.


What is a fit model?

A woman standing facing to the front wearing a tile printed scoop bikini top and matching high waisted bikini bottom.
A professional fit model for SWMR.

You might be wondering, what is a fit model? A fit model is a model that tries on garment samples before production to help the design team nail down a great fit. This isn’t a runway model or photoshoot campaign model but rather it’s someone who represents your sample size.


The sample size is the base size you start with during product development. You begin sampling with one size because it's more sensible to perfect the design and fit on one size before you move on to size grading and getting grade check samples. In the early days of fashion, size 0 or size 2 fit models were the norm. These days, with more inclusive sizing, the industry standard is to sample near the middle of your size range for the best-fit experience. For example, if your size range is XXS to 3XL, then your fit sample size might be M or L. Using a size closer to the middle is better because patterns tend to warp if you go from size S to 3XL. It’s much easier to size up a few sizes and down a few for grading as it makes the pattern and fit much more balanced.


What should you consider when looking for a fit model?


A plus size woman is standing facing forward. She is wearing a black bikini top and bottom. The neckline of. the top is safety pinned to make it fit better.
A professional fit model for Ava & Viv @ Target.

So, what’s important when hiring or choosing a fit model for your new brand? Here are some key considerations to review before you make the final call:


1. Determine the size range based on your target audience: Consider who will purchase your garments. Do you want to focus on plus-sized garments, petite sizes, or a mix of both? Figuring out the customers you want to serve will help narrow the search for the perfect model. You want to ensure that your model’s size is in the middle of your overall size range.


2. Understand the body shape of your target customer: Are you looking for a tall, slim model? Or maybe someone curvy with an hourglass figure? Perhaps you prefer a more athletic build with muscular arms and legs. If you’re designing bikini tops for full-chested women, you wouldn’t want to select a fit model who is an A-cup. If you’re trying to make ultra-curvy jeans, you want a fit model with a smaller waist and a bigger bottom; otherwise, your fit will not work for your target customer base. Essentially, what you’re creating highly depends on the people purchasing and wearing your items, so know your customer!


3. Consistent measurements that align with your fit sample size: You want to select a model that matches your fit sample size somewhere in the middle of the range. If your sample size is a standard American size M, ensure your model's bust, waist, hips, and height line up to match an industry size M as closely as possible–unless your aesthetic is different than a traditional hourglass shape. If your model’s measurements are all over the place and sometimes match a small, while other measurements match a large, you may encounter samples that are too large or too small in areas. Another good reminder about fit model measurements is that they need to stay consistent in size from month to month and year to year to maintain the brand fit.


4. Knowledge and industry experience: If you’re new to the game, you want to hire a well-versed fit model in garment fit and construction. Why? Because they will be able to describe how the clothing feels on their body more accurately. They should be able to tell when a front rise feels too long or if a sleeve opening is too tight. This feedback will help your designer team accurately communicate fit comments and pattern corrections to the factory.


5. Body confidence and acceptance: There’s nothing better than a confident fit model in this industry! Fittings can include many people, so being able to stand in a room or video call in front of a team of people either half-dressed or wearing something that visibly doesn’t fit can be uncomfortable and isn’t for the thin-skinned. While conducting a fitting, you have several eyes scrutinizing the details of a garment, so you want to ensure that your model is comfortable in that setting. Depending on your product category, you may be fitting skimpy bikinis or sexy lingerie. Hence, a fit model that won’t take anything personally is beneficial as it’s about the garment–not the body wearing it.


Where can you find a fit model?

A woman is standing facing forward. Her hands are on her hips. She is wearing a bright red bikini top and bottom. There is a person standing behind her holding the top to show how it would fit better if it was pinched under the armpit.
A professional fit model for Kona Sol @ Target.

You can hire a model through a modeling agency; their rates typically range from $250 to $500 per hour.


Here is a list of modeling agency websites to check out:

  1. Free agents AKA models that manage themselves via Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok

When starting your brand, you may not have the budget to hire a fit model. We would suggest fitting on yourself or a team member. It may mean you request a sample size different from your median size. Just make sure that they fit the model criteria mentioned above.


Choosing the right fit model for your fashion line is essential to creating amazing clothes that fit perfectly and look great. Make sure you know the size range, body shape, measurements, and body type are all critical factors to consider when selecting the perfect fit model for your brand. With this information, you can find the best fit for your brand and ensure that each garment you produce will fit your target customer base exactly how you envisioned it.


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