BHA Shoe Sizing System: All about ‘Bha’; New shoe sizing system proposed for Indians | – Times of India
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As part of a larger initiative to develop an Indian sizing system for footwear, a pan-India survey on the feet sizes of Indians was recently conducted. This proposed system, named ‘Bha’ (भ), aims to replace the existing UK/European and US sizing systems, potentially revolutionizing the footwear manufacturing industry in India.
India needs its own shoe size system to address the diverse foot morphology of its population, which differs significantly from Western standards.The current reliance on UK/European and US sizing systems often results in ill-fitting footwear, as Indian feet are generally wider and have distinct growth patterns, particularly among children and adolescents. Developing an indigenous sizing system like Bha (भ) would ensure that footwear is tailored to the unique needs of Indian consumers, promoting better comfort, foot health, and overall satisfaction. Additionally, it would streamline manufacturing processes, reduce wastage, and support the growth of the domestic footwear industry, aligning with India’s vision for self-reliance and innovation.


The survey findings
The survey, conducted between December 2021 and March 2022, covered 1,01,880 individuals across 79 locations in five geographical zones. Utilizing 3D foot scanning machines, researchers sought to understand the size, dimensions, and structure of an average Indian foot. Contrary to initial hypotheses, the survey revealed that Indians generally have wider feet than Europeans or Americans. Consequently, due to the narrow footwear available under existing sizing systems, many Indians have been wearing shoes that are larger than necessary, leading to discomfort and potential health issues.
The analysis also uncovered that Indian women’s foot size typically peaks at around 11 years of age, while for men, it peaks at approximately 15 or 16 years. Moreover, it was observed that a significant number of Indians, both men and women, were wearing ill-fitted and tight footwear, often resulting in injuries and compromised foot health, particularly among elderly women and diabetics.
Historically, the British introduced UK sizing in India before independence, with an average Indian woman wearing sizes between 4 and 6, and men between 5 and 11. However, the absence of comprehensive data on Indian feet structure and dimensions has hindered the development of an indigenous sizing system until now.


What will Bha do?
The proposed Bha system suggests eight footwear sizes, ranging from infants to adults, with commercial manufacturing initially focusing on sizes III to VIII to cater to the majority of the population. By adopting Bha, both users and footwear manufacturers stand to benefit significantly. Manufacturers would need to develop only eight sizes, eliminating the need for half-sizes and streamlining production processes.

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The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research–Central Leather Research Institute (CSIR–CLRI) spearheaded the survey and submitted its recommendations to the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), under the Union Ministry of Commerce. The DPIIT has subsequently forwarded these recommendations to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for approval. The implementation of Bha, expected in 2025, has the potential to revolutionize the footwear industry in India, offering consumers better-fitting shoes and enhancing comfort and foot health nationwide. To facilitate the transition, users will be provided with Bha-sized footwear for trial, testing, and feedback before full-scale adoption.

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