Years ago I participated in a research opportunity with a group that was working on software to bridge the gap between 3D body scanning and custom digital patterns. I was intrigued with the idea so I volunteered to stand in my skivvies for about a minute while the hardware captured thousands of data points. When the project was shut down, I was able to talk with some of the developers about their thoughts. The failure of the project centered around the software not being able to account for “noise”. Errant or missing data points, and distortion around body areas that touch caused the pattern software to have significant deviations from sizing standards that had to be reconciled by an experienced pattern drafter. The time and technical knowledge needed couldn't be supported under their pricing model.
Since the early 90’s retailers have hailed ‘Mass Customization’ as the next revolution in fashion. Levi’s, Lands’ End and Brooks Brothers were some of the early adopters in this type of technology-setting up 3D scanners in store and allowing customers to order made-to-measure versions of their current styles. While the high cost of adopting new tech and development hiccups were a factor; overcoming customer behavior patterns is the greatest hurdle. While widely adopted mass-customization has not been the radical disruption that was predicted, the fashion world is being transformed by advances in technology.3DLook
is one of the companies providing a platform to collect body measurements. Far from the bulky 3D full body scanners, their software allows measurements to be quickly and easily captured using a camera phone. SAIA-Scanning AI for Apparel, uses customer inputs: gender, height, weight, and 2 photos. This complex technology combines computer vision and machine learning to analyze the 2D images, locate body landmarks, and generate highly accurate predictions of 3 dimensional information. One of the solutions that 3DLook offers is Mobile Tailor
geared towards made-to-measure and custom-fit businesses.
With safety concerns and the constantly changing business restrictions because of Covid, I was immediately intrigued with the possibilities presented by this new technology. I signed up for a trial to see how it worked. During the two week free trial, you are allowed 10 scans. While getting familiar with the online dashboard they allow you to practice and scan yourself without counting against the allotment. I found the platform easy to use: the interface allows you to send the measurement link to a customer through email or text, and the dashboard keeps track of the status of the measurement requests you have sent. During the trial you get the chance to check out the 3D avatar feature that is available in their higher level plans.
To test using this tech I accepted a custom project for a birthday dress for the daughter of a current client. Liz would be celebrating her 13th birthday at home and wanted an outfit that was low key but special. Everything for this project was done without meeting with Liz in person. After discussing with Liz and her mom what they were envisioning, I sent them a sketch and a link from Mobile Tailor. Using her measurements, I drafted the dress from a basic sheath pattern and combined flat pattern work and draping for the bodice detail and peplum. I dropped off the completed dress with high hopes but also assured them I would guide them through marking any alterations that might be needed.
The outcome for this project was better than I hoped for, and my clients were thrilled to have a custom fit garment in the middle of a statewide lockdown. There were several factors that contributed to the success; the design was a fairly classic silhouette and we chose a ponte knit fabric that lent an additional amount of flexibility in the fit.
This technology is not likely to completely remove the manual measurements and fittings from my design process; interactions between body shapes, pattern shapes, and fabric properties will cause fitting issues that will need to be addressed. But I love that I have access to it when needed.
I invite ASDP members to read more about Mobile Tailor and sign up for a trial to see the technology at work. At the scale that many sewing professionals operate, even the Starter Plan-$99/month for up to 50 scans is likely not a reasonable expense. But 3DLook does want to extend the technology to small businesses with an option that isn’t listed on the website. After going through the trial, ASDP members can email to request pay-per-scan billing and pay a flat rate of $5 per scan. Opting into the per scan pricing doesn’t give you access to the 3D avatar nor are you able to embed the software as a widget within your website.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this interesting advance in technology or about your experience with a Mobile Tailor trial! Share your comments below or reach out to me in the Discuss List(ASDP members only), ASDP Facebook group or through email.
Jennifer Phillips is a designer in Portland, OR who specializes in custom bridal, special event and performance wear. Jennifer is currently serving as the VP of Membership in ASDP.