At this year’s CES, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and New Balance CEO, Rob DeMartini, showed off customised running shoes with 3D printed midsoles, uniquely modelled to the shape of their feet using Intel RealSense.
It highlighted one of the key trends to watch over the next few years — the increasing personalisation of products and services through technology.
Customised, made to measure apparel is arguably the next exciting step for retail and companies are tackling it in different ways. US fashion retailer Nordstrom, for example, is using Volumental’s depth-sensing VANDRA hardware to quickly scan a customer’s feet in-store. This results in more accurate, detailed measurements, enabling sales staff to make better footwear recommendations.
“We want to serve customers in new and unique ways and we’re constantly testing how technology can enhance our service experience,” says Scott Meden, Executive Vice President, GMM of Shoes, Nordstrom. “In our shoe business, fit is a critical component of serving customers and we’re excited to explore improving the accuracy and convenience of finding the right size.”
But what if you didn’t need to find the right size? In the US, digital cobbler Feetz is using foot scanning to offer custom-designed, 3D printed shoes. Simply snap a few photos of your feet using the Feetz app and these images are used to construct a 3D model. This is used to create unique shoes that fit you (and only you) perfectly.
In the UK, Fox In A Glove doesn’t believe that women “need to conform to size numbers on a coat hanger.” Its skirts, shirts and dresses can be bought off-the-peg or individually tailored. Choose the ‘made to measure’ option at checkout, enter your height, weight, waist, hip and any other measurements and Fox In A Glove will create a version of the garment just for you.
Brooks Brothers is also pursuing this personalised, tailored approach, albeit with a more high-tech twist. It has partnered with 3D body scanning startup Size Stream to make custom dress shirts for its customers.
Size Stream’s technology uses depth-sensing RealSense cameras to capture a 3D body image in just 12 seconds, yielding hundreds of precise measurements from the circumference of wrists, biceps, chest and neck, to the shoulders and seat. You can see how it works in the video below.
These measurements are then transmitted to the Brooks Brothers factory where “a personalized pattern is made specifically for you.”
While the Brooks Brothers Digital Tailor service is only available in its flagship New York store for now, this sort of high-tech, personalised clothes shopping represents a bright future for fashion retailers. Just as Amazon holds your credit card details today, enabling you to buy with a single click, high-tech clothes stores might store your measurements, allowing you to select, customise and buy clothes that fit you perfectly every time.
You get the clothes you want, and that fit, at the first time of asking. While retailers can lower their operational costs, reduce returns and boost brand/customer loyalty. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a win-win situation. — Dean Evans (@evansdp)