Trying On Clothes Virtually
In the fashion industry, tech has not just changed the way customers buy (in the form of online shopping), but now the fitting room is having a tech upgrade as well. New 3D scanning and personalization technology enabling customers to get clothes that fit better than was possible before.
Problems With Everyday Clothes
Customers’ ability to get an exact fit is not guaranteed when buying clothes off the shelf. This is because most off the shelf clothing uses statistical averages to determine the dimensions of a piece of clothing.
In reality, not everyone wearing the same size of clothing is going to get an exact fit. For some, it may be slightly too large or slightly too small.
Virtual Tech In The Fitting Room
To solve these problems, startups like Proper Cloth
have emerged. Redthread is a project of Meghan Litchfield, who formerly worked at GoPro. Her goal in starting Redthread is to make it possible for women to buy clothes that are a fit for them using a combination of tech and ecommerce to ease the process.
On Redthread, buyers walk through a 3-part process that results in better fitting clothes, including jackets, T-shirts, and pants.
The process begins with the buyer selecting their preferred length of pants or T-shirt. Then, they are presented with a quiz that gathers data about their clothing preferences. Finally, the buyer scans their measurements using a custom link sent to their phone.
These scans are used to generate a 3D model of their body. Redthread uses this model to make clothes custom fitted to the buyer’s body, and ships them to the buyer. For those worried about security considerations, Redthread promises not to store the buyer’s photos.
In addition, the company is confident its process results in clothes that fit really well. Redthread clothes come with a Lifetime Fit Guarantee. In case you are not happy with how your new clothes fit, you can get alterations for free, or get a new custom fit item.
Improving The Buyer And Ownership Experience
Startups and retailers are taking diverse approaches to providing better fitting clothes. While 3D scanning is one technique, other startups have explored the use of 3D printing to allow customers to “download” their clothing from the cloud. Established retailers are more likely to take an approach with less tech.
3D Printed Clothes That Have No Seams
Ministry of Supply is a startup that has taken 3D printing technology and applied it to the problem of clothes that fit better. As reported by Business Insider
, the company relies on 3D printing to eliminate seams and create perfectly breathable clothing.
To showcase how comfortable the company’s suits were, one of the founders ran half a marathon in a Ministry of Supply Suit. The company has applied the same technology to 3D printed knits for men and women.
Try It Before You Buy And Free Returns
Retailers not using 3D scans or other cool new technology have made efforts to provide the same level of product satisfaction for customers. Offering free product returns for clothing items is one way in which retailers are able to guarantee a good result to buyers.
Amazon has gone even further with its Amazon Prime Wardrobe
. The program allows a Prime subscriber to order clothing items and try them for up to a week before they have to pay for them.
This gives the user a chance to make sure the clothes fit right. If the clothes don’t fit right, the user sends them back to Amazon and does not have to pay.
Tangible Benefits Of Fitting Room Tech
Businesses in the fashion industry are not using technology to change the fitting room just for the cool factor alone. Business goals ranging from the need for a better selling proposition for buyers to reducing product returns are contributing as well.
Smart, Portable 3D E-Garments
is a New York startup that has partnered several fashion brands to help them provide buyers with a better fashion buying experience. The startup allows fashion buyers to create a 3D avatar with their measurements. They can do this by entering exact measurements or taking a few photos of themselves.
The company then digitizes clothing items from retailers, allowing a buyer to virtually try an item on their avatar before buying. The avatar is portable across supported retailers, making shopping from different brands easier for Perfitly users.
Lower Clothing Purchase Returns
While customers benefit from the latest fitting room tech, businesses are winners as well. An important area that startups like Perfitly are focused on is the reduction of clothing returns after customers have purchases.
With current practices, Perfitly estimates
that returns for ecommerce apparel retailers can be as high as 50%.
For the brands it works with, Perfitly was able to reduce clothing returns from 28%
to around 10%. This not only indicates that customers are happier with what they are buying, but it saves money for the retailer that would have been spent on shipping.
Challenges Remain For Fitting Room Tech
The future looks promising but there may yet be more twists and turns for the apparel industry. Challenges impede the adoption of the technology, while the promise of solving widespread problems is attracting investors.
Few Retailers Have Rolled Out 3D Scans and Other Tech
Despite the excitement brought to the market by the players on the cutting edge, most retailers have yet to adopt the technology. There are some good reasons for this. According to Verdict
, mobile systems for 3D scanning do not always produce satisfactory results.
In practice, the new technology available to retailers is still in an early stage of development. Where it is available to consumers, the cost is not always comparable to what customers might get with traditional buying. This is true of 3D printing where clothes produced through 3D printing can cost significantly more than regular clothes.
Increased Investor Attention Will Move Things Faster
Startups like NakedLabs
see potential for 3D body scanning in a multitude of industries beyond fashion. For example, the technology might have uses in medicine and sports science.
The progress of the fitting room tech startups has caught the attention of big investors. Amazon in 2017
acquired one such startup, BodyLabs, and has continued developing technology to provide apparel shoppers with a personalized fit.
The involvement of deep-pocketed investors in the future of the fitting room will help refine the tech faster.
The Future Of The Fitting Room
Thanks to the introduction of 3D scans and other tech, the fitting room is getting a high tech upgrade. The new technology personalizes clothes and allows for a better fit than is possible with off the shelf apparel. In the process, consumers will gain better results when buying apparel, especially on ecommerce platforms. For retailers, despite a few hurdles, the tech promises lower returns and more profitable apparel selling operations.