If there is one thing 2020 taught us, it’s that the normal way of conducting business can change in the blink of an eye. To avoid dying a slow death, companies must be ready and willing to adapt. Virtually no industry is immune. The apparel industry is certainly not. It has seen its fair share of change since the internet went mainstream in the ’90s. Slowly witnessing its customer base migrate from physical stores to online. Though 2020 threw a curveball no one expected, one that pulled consumers even further away from physical stores. Fashion is an industry that relies heavily on touch, feel, visual inspection, try-ons and personal preference. With every kind of clothing consumer being directed to the internet, from uniforms to ready to wear, will contactless measuring bring back some of what the internet has taken away?
(learn about contactless garment measuring)
The First Contactless Measuring Devices In Fashion
By now everyone’s heard of 3D body scanners. These were the first contactless measuring systems used in the fashion industry. They arrived in the early 90’s as computer and camera technology improved to a level that allowed body scanning systems to be built. Though these systems were closer in size to a room in your house than a personal measuring device. Subjects would stand in the center of a specialized room and a series of cameras would take their picture. Calculating their body measurements in the process.
These body scanners were specifically used in conducting measurement analysis of the human body. The industry was interested in these measurements for a multitude of reasons. Primarily, many in fashion hoped the results could help them better understand the shape of modern consumers in order to develop better fitting clothes. Mass scanning sessions were held all over the world, from Japan to the UK. Routinely scanning 5-10 thousand individuals at a clip.
Soon thereafter, a few technology companies decided it might be a good idea to place body scanning booths in stores and malls to help shoppers find well fitting clothes. The idea was to provide customers with their body measurements and guide them to clothing with a similar dimension. The issue with this is and always will be body measurements don’t equate to a good clothing fit. Body measurements leave out one critical factor, personal fit preference.
Mobile Devices Enable More Practical Contactless Measuring
Virtually all companies who dabbled in the 3D body scanning space shifted their focus to mobile devices. After all mobile devices are more practical, infinitely less costly, and almost everyone on the planet has one. The challenge with the mobile device strategy is providing similar accuracy and consistency to 3D scanning booths while shifting the responsibility from professionals operators to the novice consumer.
Taking measurements using a cell phone took shape in the early 2010’s. Apps were developed to allow consumers to photo-measure anything from a piece of art to their own body. Since this was before depth measuring was added to mobile device cameras, users routinely needed an item of reference to appear in the photo. Items such as a piece of paper, CD, or a gift card were commonly used. Alternatively, some apps would instruct users to place the phone a certain distance away from the object being measured. Both of these strategies were used to help the app achieve accurate scale. This tactic is still used today as many mobile devices still do not contain depth sensing in the rear facing camera.
Measuring App For The Human Body
Industries from fitness to fashion require data on the human shape. Mobile device body measuring has enabled entire business segments to offer at home services which were not possible before. Track your weight loss progress or get fitted for a suit by snapping a photo of yourself with your phone.
More than a handful of tech companies participate in body measurement app space. Though at the moment, 3DLook is the only body measurement solution worthy of your dollars if your an online retailer or tailor. If you don’t believe us, do a search for body measuring apps and check the app store reviews. You’ll find users have placed most of the available measuring apps somewhere between “doesn’t work” and “trash.”
Before 3DLook, a company by the name of BodyLabs showed real promise. They developed an advanced AI to measure and analyze the human shape. Though before they got too far along, they were acquired by Amazon. 3DLook recently raised a sizable Series A, putting them on the fast track to continue developing measuring solutions for the body using smart devices. They entered the market targeting everyday fashion but have recently added the workplace uniform space as a target market.
Measuring App For Clothes
Similar to measuring ones body, the process of measuring a garment is tedious and time consuming. Not to mention error prone. Although garment measuring is a task that is performed hundreds of thousands of times each day across the globe, there has never been a technology company focused on providing a replacement. Tailored is one company devoted to developing a solution to do just that.
Tailored’s Capture app allows users to snap a photo of a garment laid flat to instantly capture its measurements. The newest market, clothing resale, is the largest current target market for Capture. The system is able to drastically reduce the amount of time spent measuring clothes while also providing online shoppers with new information to help them make the correct purchase. Though resale is a target, the Capture app is available for any business or individual that sells clothing online.
Contactless Will Enable The Future Of Fashion
As with most technology created to make human lives easier and reduce mundane tasks, contactless measuring will sustain the test of time. Though the fashion industry is slow to adopt new tech, contactless measuring is filling a void left by consumers desire to shop from home. There are those that will argue against measuring the body or clothing using mobile devices. They will say the technology is not accurate enough. The can say it will never get as precise as a human. They may be correct in certain instances, but certainly not for long.
The reality is mobile devices have enabled entire business segments. Consider all the things in our daily lives not possible before cell phones. All the things we’re now able to do with the press of a button. As consumers and businesses continue to rely on mobile devices more and more, they will show increasing levels of trust in them to perform daily tasks. It also goes without mentioning with each passing year, mobile device and camera technology improves exponentially. There will come a time when a cell phone can measure a garment and a person with more accuracy and more precision and more consistently than a human.
Enable Small and Medium Sized Online Retailers To Acquire Global Customers
Competition in online fashion is fierce. Additionally, consumers are becoming increasingly demanding and lazy. They want shopping experiences catered to them and don’t want to be relegated to filling out questionnaires to help them find well fitting clothes. Why fill out a form when a simple photo will do?
Fashion retailers who offer contactless measuring services will open their doors to new potential customers from around the world. A potential customer of an online tailor now has the ability to photograph his or her best fitting pair of slacks and instantly share those measurements. The customer is no longer restricted to local tailors which may or may not exist in their locale. Traditional online clothing stores will enable potential customers to learn how their clothing will even if the customer has never shopped their selection before. This can occur by doing a simple comparison, a process not available previously.
Provide Increased Buyer Confidence
One thing that still keeps certain individuals from buying clothes online is the uncertainty in what they’re buying. Size and fit are personal preferences and each person is different in what they’re looking for. Without the ability to try something on, there is a lack in confidence they will choose correctly. Also, everyone hates returns, even if they’re free. We like instant satisfaction, but that is taken away when we must return something we just received.
Mobile device enabled measuring solutions allow consumers to compare the fit of clothing they already own to clothing being sold online. Providing an online experience unlike anything available in the past. Sure, there are solutions that allow one to see how something might look virtually, but fit is a whole different ballgame.
Contactless Measuring Can Jumpstart On Demand Manufacturing
The fashion industry is known for being pollutive and massive changes are needed to alter this course. The globe produces billions of garments each year, of which approximately 30% are never sold. Hence there are startups exploring the idea of producing clothing on demand. Unspun is a company born of this need and has a process in place to produce jeans on demand. To appeal to the mass market and all pockets of the globe, contactless measuring via smart device will be a necessity. This will enable customers to provide their body measurements and clothing measurements to on demand manufacturers, like Unspun.