Dressing-down the fashion industry

20 December 2022

With UQ ball season fast approaching, software engineering student Sarah Abdulkhalek got the inspiration she needed for an idea to take through the Ventures Curiosity program.

“I could not find a dress that fit me and started thinking about this issue. When I researched it, vanity sizing turned out to be a very real and global issue,” she said.

Vanity sizing is when clothing is labelled smaller than it’s actually cut, to imply the buyer is thinner than they actually are. This promotes the idea of thinness being the ideal, and when combined with inconsistent sizing across different clothing brands, can cause people to feel insecure and marginalised.

Clothes are actively labelled a size smaller, so brands are able to mislead buyers to believe they’re actually thinner than they actually are. It creates an issue where people feel like they have to fit in a box that just wasn’t made for them,” Sarah said.

“Today, one statement defines clothing sizes: One size fits none.”

Sarah and her team aim to create an international standard sizing guide to be able to match each user to clothes from different retailers. The idea is to provide a personalised shopping experience by having a unique feed filled with items tailored for each person.

“This would be possible by using web scraping for sizing data from different manufactures, and building a predictive behavior analysis model using AI, specifically machine learning.”

Sarah and her teammates took home the Most Creative Idea prize at the Semester 2 Ventures Curiosity six-week program — where students are supported to gain the skills, motivation, inspiration, and confidence to test and explore ideas in a safe space.

“Some of my friends had participated in Ventures Curiosity in the past and told me what a great experience it was,” Sarah said.

“I have always loved entrepreneurship, team collaboration, and public speaking. As an engineering student, I don’t often practice these skills in my courses. When I learned about this program, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to strengthen these skills and learn more about entrepreneurship.

“These are skills that are crucial not only in entrepreneurship but in the workplace as well.”

Ventures Curiosity Semester 2 Winners:

  • Most Creative Idea
    Ahmad Abu-Aysha, Chenyan Gu, Christina Brown, Sam Rankine and Sarah Abdulkhalek (in-person) 
    Adorn – Adorn is about helping people find well-fitting clothes and the vendors that provide them, which will be countering vanity sizing, reducing waste, and improving inclusivity.

    Zunyu Xue, Xiang Han and Jing Hu (online)
    Family Bridge Team – One of the most important aspects of Chinese culture is family reunification. Our goal is to provide services and assistance for these seniors to quickly adapt to a different culture and local life.
  • Best Pitch Delivery 
    Shashindi Vithanage, Yanyan Hong and Priscilla Gyasi-Agyei (online)
    Jarrah – A service that sets up recycling “FLYeah” machines across Brisbane to collect discarded/unwanted flyers, e.g., ads and promotion cards.

    Jarvis Noronha and Joel Jose Quisberth Rodriguez (in-person)

    Green Fitness – turning calories into electricity that sustains not only the gym itself, but nearby power grids

  • Best Business Idea
    Yuanting Li (online)
    Fresh dog food to help people take care of pets’ health and improve their health conditions.

Shouao Yu (Shelly) (in-person)
Sixth Sense – Provide press-on nails for those who cannot do nail art for professional reasons eg, doctors & surgeons etc.