A size survey and research project are currently underway to gather data on plus-size women, with a view to improving the fit of clothing for this growing market.

The research project overseen by the Forschungskuratorium Textil eV (Textile Research Board) is measuring and evaluating body size and shape scientifically for the first time.

The results will provide the garment industry with current body measurement data, guidelines for the best designs, and realistic virtual size models.

Until now there has been a lack of well-fitting plus-size garments, partly due to the lack of data but also because scaling up an item designed for a size 8-12 doesn't accommodate different body shapes.

The research, which has also been carried out with the Hohenstein Institute for Clothing Physiology and the Institute of Textile Machinery and High Performance Material Technology at Dresden's Technical University, has evaluated 4000 data sets from women ranging in size from 44 to 64.

Measurements were recorded with state-of-the art 3D scanning technologies over the course of several size surveys.

From this, the Hohenstein Institute has produced new body size tables for sizes 48 to 64 and 3D size models for sizes 48 to 60. It has also compiled guidelines to help design plus-size women's outerwear.