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 1.2 Why is anthropometry important?

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When you buy off-the-peg clothes, you expect to go to a shop and find something that more or less fits you. Somehow the manufacturer has found out what size you are and then made something suitable for you. However, if you are an 'unusual' size, either very tall or short, or heavy or thin, then you will probably have difficulty finding something to fit you. You may even have to find some specialist shop that caters for people of unusual size. This happens of course because it is generally uneconomic for a manufacturer to produce items for the relatively few people who want some unusual sizes. But how does the manufacturer know what sizes to produce?

Experience of course, which has been translated into industry standards backed by knowledge about the dimensions of a particular population. Knowing the quantities of various sizes that have sold in the past and then trying to make sufficient clothes of each size to satisfy most customers will keep the manufacturer in business - assuming that people like the styles produced. If the manufacturer gets it wrong then he or she will soon be out of business. Obviously the clothes must fit the customers and therefore must be based on the body sizes of the customers. If the manufacturer is American and decides to market the clothes in Japan then business may not be too good if the same range of sizes are marketed there. Japanese people are generally smaller than Americans and what about body proportions? Suppose a Japanese man has the same stature as an American man, does he have proportionately shorter or longer arms and legs. And what about his overall body shape? Do Japanese men have the same necks and waists as American men of the same height or weight? The problems for the clothes manufacturer are fairly obvious. None of us buy clothes that don't fit.

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