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FRĒDA SALVADOR Holds Fall 2014 LAUNCH EVENT + POP UP SHOP WITH CRIMSON MIM

August 19, 2014 Leave a comment
   
 FRĒDA SALVADOR      FRĒDA SALVADOR      FRĒDA SALVADOR      FRĒDA SALVADOR      FRĒDA SALVADOR

The Ultimate Guide to Wearing a Chambray Shirt

January 14, 2014 Leave a comment

UPDATE (Feb 27 2013): If you like this article – you should ‘Like’ Confessions of a Product Junkie’s brand new Facebook page to get updates when there are more fashion how to’s and articles like this one.

Chambray and denim shirts have been popular for quite a few seasons now, and for good reason. They are, hands down, one of the easiest trends to wear. They’re also the glue that ties many other spring trends together (as you’ll see in this guide).

Personally, I’m a huge fan of the chambray. Some of my favorites are from J Crew (I have this one), Lauren by RL and Urban Outfitters.

More options…

However, I’m sad to see that many women have avoided purchasing a chambray because they’re just not sure how to wear them. That’s where I come in. Because one of the questions I get asked most often is how to pull off the chambray (or I get asked how to wear other things and the answer is always “with a chambray!”), I decided it was time to put together a guide. So here are my tips for wearing a chambray or denim shirt. Enjoy!

Image on left via See Jane. Image on right is me.

So if you add one thing to your wardrobe this spring, make it a chambray or denim shirt. In fact, make it two – because if you follow these tips for wearing yours, you’ll get so much use out of it that you’ll want to own both.

UPDATE (Feb 27 2013): If you like this article – you should ‘Like’ Confessions of a Product Junkie’s brand new Facebook page to get updates when there are more fashion how to’s and articles like this one.

You might also like:

Dress it up a little

10 of-the-moment styles and how to wear them

10 Ways to Wear Jeans and a T-Shirt
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The Sweet Spot: Why Netflix Matters

July 26, 2013 Leave a comment

How PAM and Mini-Factories can help us Avoid the US Apparel Industry’s Perfect Storm

August 15, 2012 3 comments

Retail shopping is being transformed by technology in multiple ways. A recent article in USA Today titled ” Why shopping will never be the same,” by Jon Swartz touches on just a few of them.

This blog post has a follow-up guest post to a recent posting titled: Demand Manufacturing: AM4U (Apparel Made 4 You). I asked Bill Grier (founder and current chief technology officer (CEO) of Critical Mass Manufacturing (CMM), Bud Robinson (Chief Marketing Officer of Critical Mass Manufacturing Inc.) and Dr Peter Kilduff (chair of Cal Poly’s Apparel Merchandising and Management department (AMM)) to comment by developing the guest post below on the perfect storm currently taking place in the US apparel industry.

Current Online Apparel Sales Trends

How PAM and Mini-Factories can help us Avoid the US Apparel Industry’s Perfect Storm

We may never see a “parting of the waves” opportunity like this again, where crisis level problems meet potential solutions head on. The confluence of technological advances and market need has never been more in sync than it is today.  Yet with all this opportunity the apparel sector has been slow to recognize and embrace change, blinkered and straight-jacketed via sunk investments that link distant low-cost offshore manufacturing locations to increasingly dynamic and fragmented consumer needs.  The reality is that the existing US apparel marketing philosophy of mass foreign production, seasonal market overloading, up to 50% markdowns, and eventual unsold product dumping, is becoming increasingly untenable economically, environmentally, and (ultimately,) politically.

Yet, we have solutions close at hand if we just extend our reach.  Here is a list of the available technologies that have developed separately over the last ten years.

  1. We have a massive sophisticated consumer base with an expanding multichannel retail infrastructure (ERP, CRM) ready to serve.
  2. Bar code SKU based prediction profiles for trends and purchasing patterns.
  3. Both the government (DAMA) and the private sector have created efficient and accurate tracking (RFID) and communication/control (PLM, MMS) programs for supply chain management.
  4. Incredible design and visualization capabilities, with digital 2D and 3D computer-aided design (CAD) applications enhancing product development capabilities.
  5. Body scanning to obtain up-to-date sizing data, improved fit selections and with the promise to enable virtual reality fit to avatar permitting custom fit and custom design.
  6. Cutting and sewing technologies enhanced by computer integrated manufacturing systems are evolving at digital speeds.
  7. “Change-on-the-fly” digital printing technology that utilizes fewer water and energy resources and is perfect for the shorter runs needed by today’s fickle fashion industry.
  8. New advances in chemical-physics have unlocked the ability to permanently dye and print the polyester, spandex and nylon micro fabrics that dominate today’s worldwide fashion choices.

Individually, these technologies have provided the industry with opportunities for significant but incremental advances.  When amalgamated, as demonstrated by the Apparel Made for You (AM4U) project, they open the way for a radical new approach to apparel retailing and manufacturing – one that begins with the consumer purchase and integrates this with fabric and garment design, retail selling and garment assembly.  This Purchase Activated Manufacturing (PAM) model will produce custom-designed, custom fitted, and custom labeled apparel, eliminating finished goods inventories and dramatically improving profitability.  At the same time, it will considerably reduce pollution, energy and water use, and return a significant number of apparel jobs back to the USA.  PAM has the potential to be the most disruptive technical event to affect the sewn goods industry since the innovations pioneered by Elias Howe and Isaac Singer.   PAM promises an answer to the building storm of eroding profit margins, and the generation of huge waste and pollution in a world progressively expending its natural resources.  Not so much a perfect storm more a parting of the waves.

The Top Challenges in Apparel Retail

Reducing Out-of-Stocks. This is more critical than ever to apparel retailers, since many have adopted defensive inventory practices designed to keep only as much inventory in the store as is absolutely needed. This has put significant pressure on retailers to enhance supply chain efficiency by having real-time visibility to merchandise levels in their stores and at distribution centers.  PAM/Mini-Factory:  Garments are stored in digital form and sized to fit and produced when purchased.  There is no out-of-stock for any product ever stored in the inventory i.e., a standard DVD will hold over 1200 digital garments including all colors and sizes.

Lowering the Cost of Inventory. Retailers had to adapt during the recession, making difficult cuts to their inventories in order to avoid overstocks and markdowns. But the short selling seasons of apparel, as well as frequent reconfiguration of products on the sales floor, makes this challenge particularly poignant in the apparel industry. PAM/Mini-Factory: By targeting PAM production on high inventory cost and high risk designs, colors and prints, retailers can use a single display or touch screen image in place of product on the floor.

Improving Speed to Market. Fashions change at blinding speed, and new trends and consumer preferences emerge at the blink of an eye – today, even more than in the past. Apparel brand-owners must get their products from the design center to the store faster than ever, and retailers must stock and sell those products immediately while consumer interest is at its highest – and before the next selling season begins. PAM/Mini-Factory: With real time design, on the fly patternmaking and one-off production, retailers can test the market continuously without delay or cost.  Consumers can make, color and print changes and see them on their bodies before they purchase.

Reducing or Reallocating Labor. Gross margins on apparel have dropped significantly in the past two years as a result of the recession, as retailers have slashed prices to move merchandise. This has put renewed pressure on retailers to be more efficient with their labor allocation in order to recoup a few percentage points of margin lost by price-cutting. Additionally, more retailers have begun adopting source tagging, moving the process of attaching tags to the front end of the supply chain, where it can be done more cost effectively.  PAM/Mini-Factory: Consolidation of tasks removes the dye-house, the wet printer, the label maker, the hang-tag printer, the cutter and all the transportation and duties in between these sites.  The key to gross profits is not paying less per person but to pay less people. A mini-factory will pay less people higher wages and still more than double gross profit.

Generating Data to Manage and Maximize Programs. As both sales and gross margins have slipped among apparel retailers and brand owners in recent years, more money has been spent on direct-marketing programs to drive store traffic and encourage purchasing activity. But retailers need additional, real-time information in order to determine what promotions are working and which ones are not, while manufacturers need this information to determine which retailer marketing campaigns they will continue funding.  PAM/Mini-Factory: PAM is both real time and real money data, plus it generates size and demographic details never before available.  Remember there are no markdown or sale promotions because there is no inventory to markdown.

Preserving Brand Integrity. Apparel counterfeiting remains a huge, vexing problem. It robs retailers of legitimate sales opportunities, erodes margins, confuses supply-chain partners and erodes a brand in the eyes of consumers who receive shoddy substitutes for the real thing. Retailers and brand-owners are taking extra steps to ensure that their brands are properly and consistently presented to consumers. PAM/Mini-Factory: Total manufacturing control of high end products allows security and anti-counterfeit techniques and applications never before possible.

Enhancing Customer Satisfaction. Research from Harvard Business School has consistently noted that when a product is out of stock when a customer comes in, that customer is highly likely to shop for the product in another store and perhaps unlikely to return again in the future to the original store for that product. It also means that the customer doesn’t buy additional apparel products and accessories, robbing the retailer of important add-on sales and profits. PAM/Mini-Factory: The consumer participates in the fitting and coloring in real time online or in the store and since the inventory is digital nothing is ever out of stock.

Reducing Shrink. Apparel is the number-two category for shrink worldwide, according to the Global Retail Theft Barometer. Reducing shrink is a huge step toward improving the bottom line of apparel retailers, especially considering that higher-margin products such as accessories, designer-label clothing and intimate apparel are stolen at even higher rates. PAM/Mini-Factory: Every garment has an owner before it even starts through the factory. Elimination of shrink is a major contributor to increased gross profit.

Maximizing Sales. At a fundamental level, retailers are in business to sell products that their customers want to buy, and they need to do everything possible to maximize sales. Having the right mix of products, maintaining adequate shelf availability, and keeping prices competitive are all key to their long-term success. PAM/Mini-Factory: The PAM selling strategy increases consumer participation, provides for multichannel convenience (in store, online/in store pickup, online/ship) and creates personal tailor level customer loyalty.

An example of the PAM Mini-Factory strategy for recovering the US apparel manufacturing base can be seen daily in thousands of Lowes, Home Depot, Orchard Supply, and other home centers and paint stores through the country.  Paint was a staple product for years but it suffered from high inventory costs and large floor space consumption.  The problem was that every color had to be in stock and if you did try to mix a new color it was almost impossible to match the customer’s chip.  Sound familiar…?  Then a smart young lady decided to apply the new low cost spectrophotometer technology to the problem.  This permitted colors to be mixed and matched in-store right at the counter with white paint!  Voila! Purchase Activated Manufacturing mini-factories were born in home centers across the United States (and the rest of the world)! Suddenly, integrated diverse technologies joined to reduce waste and inventory and more than double gross profit.

Standby, because in the next guest blog post, Bill, Bud and Peter will demonstrate how to maximize profits through matrix product selection and multichannel sales distribution.

Demand Manufacturing: AM4U (Apparel Made 4 You)

August 14, 2012 9 comments

“Demand Manufacturing” what is it? Just as it states, it directly connects consumers’ demand to manufacturing. The AM4U (Apparel Made 4 You) concept represents the set-up of turnkey purchase activated manufacture (PAM) mini-factories in the USA for making and selling active performance apparel online. With this method the need for all finished goods inventory will be eliminated. Mini plants can be placed inside a distribution site or near a shopping hub and can be easily moved on two trucks.

Bud Robinson is Chief Marketing Officer of Critical Mass Manufacturing Inc, (CMM) which is the leading member of a group of apparel industry advisors to Cal Poly Pomona’s Department of Apparel Merchandising and Management (AMM). Dr. Peter Kilduff, Chair of AMM has assembled a team to demonstrate a revolutionary new way to manufacture and market Active Apparel. “Bud’s Apparel background includes: President of Levi Strauss International, and President of Hang Ten and Catalina Swimwear, he was also EVP of the Gap Stores and was instrumental in their startup. Bud is coordinating the AMM advisory group that has incorporated itself as AM4U.

Bill Grier is a pioneer in the digital printing industry and he is also the inventor of numerous international and US patents. Bill is the founder and current chief technology officer (CEO) of Critical Mass Manufacturing (CMM). For the AMM demonstration project that Bud recently coordinated, Bill teamed up with Styku virtual body-scanning, Tukatech Apparel Technology, AIMS apparel management system and Eton Systems to launch an initial demand manufacturing AM4U prototype project aimed at illustrating how consumers can be  directly connected to manufacturing to create the demand manufacturing process.

After listening to Bill speak so eloquently about the AM4U demand manufacturing mini manufacturing modules he would like to see set-up across the US, I decided that you should have an opportunity to listen to him talk more in detail about the historical background of how numerous developments in technology have come together to create a “perfect storm of opportunity and transformation for the American apparel industry.”

Bill Grier

Audio interview here – please listen to Bill’s historical background story.

 Bill details the historical background:

  • On the confluence of bar codes, digital printing, fiber development, environmental awareness, the DAMA Project,overseas manufacturing, custom body scanning and the Internet, which presented this unique opportunity for change.
  • Zero Inventory Production (ZIP).
  • Technology Advantages. incorporated into AM4U digital printing.
  • Critical Mass Manufacturing (CMM).
  • Purchase activated Manufacturing.

Dr. Peter Kilduff

The companies initially came together with Cal Poly Pomona’s Apparel Merchandising and Management department to work on the project, hoping to find a solution to waste and overproduction in the apparel industry.

The video clip below represents the initial demonstration of the AM4U solution. AM4U’s mentor Dr Peter Kilduff, chair of Cal Poly’s Apparel Merchandising and Management department (AMM) explains one of the major problems plaguing American manufacturing. He introduces how AM4U technology has the capacity to change the apparel industry from supply and demand to demand and supply.

Critical Mass Manufacturing: Cost Effective Demand to Supply Green Technology

When I spoke to Bill Grier about this green cost-effective demand and supply technology he spoke passionately of his dream to bring the industrial base in textiles back to the U.S. by doing demand manufacturing.” Bill went on to say that “The Internet is not about price it’s about choice. Our purpose is to make the technology or products available to people who need them on a wider scale.  The AM4U concept represents a huge shift for the apparel industry. It’s switching supply and demand to demand and supply.”

CMM has developed the Active Tunnel Coloration (ATC) process (patent pending) that replaces huge water-based dye houses. No water or hazardous chemicals are used.This represents a green technology with no use of chemicals.

Bill states:

–  that the colors produced by his method are so permanent that you could pour bleach on it and the colors will never change. Cleaning agents or bleach cannot affect the coloration of the fabric, resulting in the most durable colored fabrics available. Since water is eliminated in the AM4U color application process, production is simplified.

This technology allows color changes on the fly, any colors and different colors for each garment, that includes all over prints and graphics. This process will eliminate finished goods inventory and the related carrying costs will increase retained gross profits by up to 100%.

CMM’s technology is devised around a single principle: The fiber itself contains enough energy to conduct colorization from the energy stored in the fiber, rather than requiring external chemicals to create color.

What we found is that there was energy stored in the fiber when it was formed that we could trigger to move dye into the fiber.

Most fabric coloring requires mass production through multiple processes and factories, which often results in excess fabric from over-estimating production. This technology enables dying, printing and labeling only the amount of fabric needed, all on one machine in a single pass  and on a much quicker schedule, instead of a designer having to place an order overseas to separate dye houses and printing manufacturers.

Grier’s technology is devised around a single principle: The fiber itself contains enough energy to conduct colorization from the energy stored in the fiber, rather than requiring external chemicals to create color, Grier explained.

“What we found is that there was energy stored in the fiber when it was man-made that we could release at certain frequencies,” Grier said.

Currently, his research has been limited to man-made polymers, such as nylon and polyester.

Beyond the environmental benefits of conserving water, the new technology also helps conserve resources by enabling users to use demand manufacturing, which negates the need for over-production, Grier says.

Most fabric dyeing requires mass production through multiple factories, which often results in excess fabric from over-estimating production, Grier explained. His technology enables him to dye, print and imprint only the amount of fabric needed, all on one machine and on a much quicker schedule, instead of a designer having to place an order overseas to separate dye houses and printing manufacturers, Grier said.

“We’re trying to tie the manufacturing speed directly to consumer takeaway speed. That way, there’s no extra production. We can produce a one-off for the Internet for the same price as mass production,” he said.

Grier said this technology could help bring the textile industry back to the United States instead of relying on large-scale mass printing and production overseas.

“Four out of every five blouses produced overseas is not sold at retail price. That means we’ve produced four blouses more than we need for the marketplace, and the water use is somewhere around 100 to 150 gallons of water per blouse, so if we don’t produce four of them because the technology is closer to the consumer, we’ve saved water and pollution,”  He explained. “Water is becoming a precious commodity, especially in California, and without waterless technology we lose the ability to control our own destiny on the products we produce in California.”

California Apparel News

Top Benefits of AM4U Technology

  • A perfect Fit every time for the consumer.
  • A zero inventory production system.
  • ACT technology save the environment by eliminating the use of billions of gallons of water with no caustic chemicals.
  • Very important is the bottom line – AM4U technology will result in a 40% higher profit and will produce thousands of new jobs.

Higher Education Partnerships Wanted

Bill Grier and Bud Robinson would like to partner with higher education to continue testing AM4U (Apparel Made 4 You) demand manufacturing green technology. At the same time they would like to support higher education by providing an opportunity for schools and students to build funding streams for more student centered research projects. They will provide more details in an upcoming post.

If you can’t wait here is contact information for you:

Virtual Bodyscanner, Virtual Fit/Sizing and Virtual 2D/3D Try-On and Virtual Closet List


Microsoft Kinect Technology is Transforming Bodyscanning and Virtual Fit Capabilities.

Whew –  that is quite a title for this posting and believe me it is not representative of the slew of fashion try on apps out there and not all of them are connected to “fit.” All these apps represent a lot of confusion no doubt caused by that magnificent Kinect-based technology that Microsoft made possible. Before Kinect technology it was either type in your own measurements online to match brand size measurements to user measurements or the currently expanding number of on site body scanners like Me Ality that provide a totally accurate body scan  [far more accurate than what an average user would ever type in]. The scanner service matches and locates brand items that fit the body scan measurements. [Update: If Me-Ality installs 300 bodyscanner brand size matching services in shopping centers across North America as I blogged about in the last post, they will have addressed and resolved a portion of the accurate sizing issue for online retailers. Once your accurate body measurements are in the Me-Ality database, you can shop online for accurate fitting clothing. This will have the effect of significantly reducing returns from online sales. I wonder if the Me-Ality scanner data was uploaded to the [TC]2 mobile Virtual Fashion System if the user could then virtually test various brands of garment fit on themselves in 360 rotation? – see the Smart Phone section on the [TC]2 post]. Kinect based technology has made several 2D try on “flat photo image” applications and 3D [360 degree rotational] accurate sizing and fit applications for the on site retail market and development for home based 3D Kinect fit and sizing services is fast and furious, more are emerging every day.

Kinect technology full 3D bodyscanners have been developed that are capable of providing “highly accurate” full body scans. The key word is “accurate’ the number of depth sensors are directly related to the accuracy and  number of measurements that can be scanned. The number of seconds it takes to scan the 3,6,10 is far less important than the accuracy of the scan and number of measurements the scan [related to the number of 3D depth sensors]. The low cost [$10,000 (portable) or $12,500 in the booth version] TC2 “16 depth sensor” Kinect based bodyscanner machine the KX-16  is overall equal to full body scanners and supports hundreds of measurements with better than 1/4″ accuracy.

You have to know exactly what you are looking for because there is an abundance of smoke and mirrors out there. The listing for bodyscanners and full service providers on this post is not all-inclusive. You will have to do your own research and ask a lot of questions relating to what outcomes you specifically want and compare closely. There will be an International Conference and Exhibition on 3D Body Scanning Technologies in Lugano Switzerland in October, check out the program topics and technical program here. If you are lucky enough to attend, get yourself bodyscanned at several vendors and compare the results.

 Chasing the Holy Grail of Accurate Virtual Bodyscanning & Fit

So far several candidates seem to be currently vying for holy grail development and service providers. First to be mentioned is TC2, who is a provider of direct and indirect technology products and services to industry. [Their mission is to elevate the level of technology, manufacturing systems, and business processes employed in the global soft goods industry through research and development, education, training, and outreach.] Others are Human Solutions, Bodymetrics and DNA Interactif Fashion. Styku is all over the Web announcing that they are definitely chasing the full range of holy grail services but seems to be still in development phase. They are all vying to become the first widely used mass market providers of an entire range of services that includes but is not limited to accurate bodyscanning for fit, & sizing, for product customization and home and/or retail virtual try-on with accurate fit and sizing with the ability to move around in the draped clothing and test tightness of looseness of the fit. Color and styling selections are part of the service as well as locating items from specific brands that the user can try on in the privacy of their home.

Variety of Other Virtual Fit and Virtual Closet Services

Some of the other retail-based Kinect applications enable the user to overlay images of fashion items over a video of them to visually see how the items [dress, handbag, etc.] kind of, sort of look like on the viewer by overlaying a flat 2D photo image.

Not using the Kinect technology is True Fit, one of the more well-known online fit and sizing service. Macy’s and Nordstrom have recently begun using True Fit for certain categories of apparel on their websites. True Fit uses a computer program that relies partly on the clothes already in a person’s closet along with brands’ size specifications. Metail, a virtual fitting room launched by Tesco on Facebook. MyVirtualModel  MVM now markets a weight management simulator in additioin to the My Virtual Model app. One fit application that stands alone in the FitsMe application. It is a shape shifting robot that lets you try clothes online.

TC2 offers low-cost 2D/3D Kinect based body scanning devices for home with the Single Windows Kinect Body Scnner and the TC2 Virtual Fashion System or the V-Dresser [or for Weight Management].

The List

1. Full Bodyscanners [highly detailed or detailed  accuracy]

[note: If you are looking for this technology make sure the measurement extraction goes right to your servers. If there is an online extraction service it should go only to the companies servers and not to the scanner company. If it goes to the scanner companies server, they get a copy of all your data.]

  • TC2 – ImageTwin  Highly detailed accuracy, NX-16 White light and also 16 sensor KX-16 Kinect Technology.
  • Telmat Highly detailed accuracy,White light technology
  • Human Solutions  Highly detailed accuracy, Laser technology
  • Spacevision Cartesia  Highly detailed accuracy[offered by TC2 in US and Europe] Laser technology [Spacevision of Japan is currently the leading scanner in Japan and Korea]
  • Styku  Kinect 4 sensor Kinect technology/detailed accuracy [possibly a proprietary system linked to Tukacad]

2. Full Bodyscanning  Fit, Sizing, Style, and Data Collection  Services

  • Me-Ality Service geared to match consumers to brand fit and styling selection. [Unique Solutions, Gen. II Intellifit Technology] Currently there already are 65 locations across the US [link], funding was awarded in 2011 for 300 new locations All planned locations are here. Video link of retail service here.
  • Alvascan Service geared to retailers for fit. [Gen I Intellifit, TC2, Human Solutions Technology].

3. Holy Grail Chasers:  Full bodyscanning  fit and sizing/virtual try-on retail/home, data collection, and mass customization services.

The companies below are representative of some candidates for possibly offering all these products and/or services either via industry outreach or directly to the retail industry. In some cases many or in other only a few more ingredients are needed to obtain the magical holy grail. The most obvious requirement is current placement at retail level.

  • TC2 offers and is in continual research and development for the latest in 2D/3D technology primarily for the global softgoods industries that incorporate bodyscanning including chasers of Phase II “holy grail” home-based  2D/3D Kinect fit technology. In addition to the KX-16 portable full body scanner TC2 offers [TC]2’s Virtual Fashion System  – it makes lifelike natural pose avatars and can show them with clothing, and can predict sizes or provide custom clothing specifications that are compatible with other systems. Here is a link to a mobile device simulation, [note:if you click on the link give it a few seconds to start]. Clothing can be generated from V-Dresser, Marvelous Designer, OptiTex, Lectra, Maya, etc etc etc.  TC2 also offers the  V-Dresser  3D virtual garment creation system. Leveraging recently released low-cost scanning devices for home use, [TC]² has combined that low-cost power and availability with its Size Selection, Avatar Creation, Virtual Fashion, and Weight Loss Visualization technologies developed over the years for use with high-accuracy 3D full body scans. The result is an extremely high value-low cost solution for retail, at-home, and web-enabled smart phone applications. V-Dresser is the overall highest quality lowest cost system and is compatible with garment content from almost all systems. TC2 maintains a strong link between education and industry. TC2 technology is currently placed in numerous public applications via a range of products/service arrangements.
  • DNA Interactif Fashion [TC2 Image Twin technology] iStyling Service w/ Interactif Mirror video here. Users can use cloud platform to access their personal proportions, personal body measurements and personalized mannequin to buy apparel, accessories, styling advice, health advice and select new hair styles. All purchases automatically appear on all devices. So they can use it always and everywhere. The consumer can even share info, outfits etc with the community. Offerings of full service here. Their site has links to 3 retail placements, go to DNA Homepage  drop down menu, select References and select from one to the 3 lower locations.
  • Human Solutions Retail [Laser technology] offers life-like natural pose avatars and can show them with clothing, and can predict sizes or provide custom clothing specifications that are linked to industrial processes.  The HS system can utilize 3D clothing generated from its product development applications. HS has developed a product called The Virtual Mirror. It connects your products and your customers virtually in real time. In a seamless process chain, bodyscanning is interactively connected with 3D clothing simulation and CAD software.
  • BodyMetrics [Kinect Based PrimeSense Solutions Technology] Bodyscanning for Brand matching for Fit, Style Selection, Sizing. Currently available at several retail locations [video link here] , Kinect based home shopping virtual try-on and fit services currently in development.
  • Styku [Kinect4 sensor Kinect technology]  Currently no real deployments at retail. [Seems to be still in full concept development stage for Fit, Style Selection, Sizing  and Virtual Try-On  retail/home services and perhaps a variety of other products and services are being planned. [Update: Styku was conducting a 3 month manual user measurement input demo test [category #4] for an online e-tailer Billy Blues that was no longer working at the time of my research for this post. Currently it looks like Billy Blues is no longer taking orders but Styku seems to have recently activated a demo page again for a manual user input size matching service [not a bodyscanning brand matching size service] on their site for jeans at Nordstroms. Here is the direct link.  This does not seem to be a service that is available directly from Nordstroms. Nordstrom currently uses the True Fit service listed below]

4.  Online Fit And Sizing Services That Require User Input Data

This category has some sites that are only available through a retailer, while others are Web services open to the public.  Body dimensions estimated via a variety of questionnaire interfaces where user fills out measurements and current brand style, size/fit info and that algorithm data is matched up with style, sizing and fit info available for online brands.

5. Video image, 3DKinect Bodyscanning Virtual Fit Rooms/Robotic Clothes Form

  • UpCload – Free public user site and available for retailers. Users size is estimated via Webcam image and user input measurements.
  • TC2 Single Windows Kinect Body Scanner   Accurate Human Avatars for All Applications Including size selection advice, virtual fashion and weight loss visualization.
  • Fitiquette – Looks like it will be only a service for retail clients. Seems to be still in development stage – does not seem to be in any on site retailer right now only demo video. The video has too much focus on the customer’s hand movements and not enough focus on the actual product.  Hummm. Video link.  Looks like a still in development 3D Kinect based application that is being planned for use in store and at home with online platform that allows users to input clothing sizes, body types, styles, colors and preferred shopping brands to find the best “fit” using a rotating model. Very interesting…
    Startup Spotlight: Q&A With Fitiquette.
  • Sizeseeker Not sure how this will be marketed. The company uses the Xbox Kinect to help users accurately find their clothing size. They are members of the Wharton Venture Initiation Program, all Sizeseeker needs is a photo from the front and side and it will automatically compare your measurements with 100,000 other body scans to estimate size. Wharton Journal link.
  • Fits.me – Only a service for retail clients and a really one-of-a-kind unique one at that. Video link.  Robotic size changing clothes form – responds to typed in measurements. Selected garment sizes are illustrated on robotic shape shifting form that match users typed in measurements.

6. Virtual Closets/ Kinect based 2D Virtual dressing room Virtual Closets

Virtual dressing rooms and virtual closets are “not” fitting room applications.  Virtual-Closet Web Sites Revise Online Fashion Shopping , NY Times.

And finially here is a link to the research link page at [TC]2 and also another link to Cornell University, College of Human Ecology related sites from their 3D body scanner research pages.

Unique Soultions/Me-Ality: Phase I towards Revolutionizing the Way We Shop

Unique Solutions Tanya Shaw, President  [Founder] and CEO of Me-Ality by Unique Solutions

Exciting things are happening at Unique Solutions. Body scanners that aim to ensure the perfect fit have attracted a $30-million investment for Unique Solutions.

Northwater Capital Management Inc.’s Intellectual Property Fund is putting the money into Unique Solutions Design Ltd. The cash infusion will allow Unique Solutions to open more than 300 of its scanning kiosks across North America by the end of 2013.  Tanya Shaw states, “As of June 2012, 500,000 people have been scanned and Me-Ality has over 65 size matching locations that are open in malls across the US.” [article link: Body scanners help shoppers get better fit]

Where will all of those body scanners be located? Click here to see if one will be near you.

Size matching service answers the frustrating question…What is my size?

No more will our shopping experience either in the real world or the on-line world involve totally guessing how that brand will fit you. It is an open secret that there are no consistent sizing standards for clothing brands so it is a total gamble for a prospective buyer especially when they are purchasing online how that particular brand will fit. Vanity sizing is common among brands and some brands use it to give them a psychological ” vanity edge.” [translation: $ales] Instead of “those lying eyes” in retail it is now “Oh those lying brand sizes,” combined with a dose of self-denial from all of us.

Some brands actively manipulate the sizes to appeal to the customers vanity ego as a competitive tool to use against other brands with similar price points, but other brands have honestly been trying to provide as much information as possible to empower their customers to order the best size for their body shape. They realize that the lo$$ percentage due to returns from chaotic and random sizing far outnumbers the additional rate of sales for “vanity sizing.”

The task in the past has been near impossible. Why? Because the culturally diverse US only has one sizing survey “public” database [SizeUSA] in the last 40 years. [see 3D Bodyscanner – Ready to Wear,  Cornell University]

From the [TC]² site about Size USA:

[TC]² conducted a comprehensive sizing survey of the U.S. population, scanning nearly 11,000 individuals in 12 locations across the U.S. The first such survey in over 40 years, SizeUSA provides current measurements on the sizes and shapes of today’s adult consumer.  [NY Times archive article]

Using this vast data base of scanned subjects, [TC]² can provide statistically accurate shape and sizing data analysis for manufacturers, brands, and retailers to improve fit.

SIZE UK using TC2 scanners

 TC2 scanners were used to gather 3D body scans for SIZE_UK_STATISTICS  during 2001 & 2002. During this time approximately 11,000 scans were captured and a total of 1.5 million measurements have been analysed.

Alvanon sizing surveys in China and France:

In 2008 Alvanon released the results of a body scanning survey in China and published those results: A 2008 fashion industry survey: The average US female is 5’4″ at 155 lb?

Alavanon also collaborated with: the Institute Francais du Textile et de l’Habillement (IFTH) to create standard French sizes for the apparel industry. The study, conducted by IFTH in 2006, which included more than 11,500 scans of French citizens in 37 different sites in France, provides powerful insight into how to improve fit for the French body for apparel brands both in France and those seeking to gain a competitive advantage in the market Link to announcement here.

Phase I? What is Phase II?

Now the title of this blog posting is that Me-Ality represents Phase I towards revolutionizing the way we shop. You may be wondering what is phase II?  Really exciting developments are underway right now incorporating Microsoft Kinect based technology to initiate and fast forward development of the Phase II: that includes the development of holy grail home fit services for online shopping. Bodyscanning on the retail site “or at home” and in addition to accurate body size match up to a variety of brands. Once the users body is scanned, the user can then virtually select and try on brands  [to test accurate fit] that are matched up to the bodyscan. Customized clothing or garment patterns can be ordered from in store “or home” using this service. Here is a link to some earlier research in this area from Cornell University College of Human Ecology. More in future posts.

Update: If Me-Ality installs 300 bodyscanner brand size matching services in shopping centers across North America, they will have addressed and resolved a portion of the accurate sizing issue for online retailers. Once your accurate body measurements are in the Me-Ality database, you can shop online for accurate fitting clothing.

About Unique Solutions Ltd.

They develop and commercialize advanced body measurement technologies and maintain the largest database of body measurements that accurately reflects the real size and shape of people. The company’s proprietary technology yields aggregate data and body measurement information that readily translates into better fitting products and services.

Me-Ality [formerly mybestfit]

What is it? Me-Ality is a FREE service that matches body sizing to specific brand sizing measurements that takes less than 10 minutes from Scan to Shopping Guide and makes it easy to find the best fitting clothes for your unique body. Customers are given a shopping list of jeans and apparel that will fit and flatter them. Specific brands and stores in the mall that carry those brands are listed to find their selections. They can also narrow their list to specific style features, or to favorite brands, or the price they want to pay.

Here is a link that will show you the current brands that are working with the Me-Ality service.

Body Scanners

The Intellifit Virtual Fitting Room is a high-accuracy scanner utilizing low emitting radio waves to capture 200,000 points of data on a fully clothed individual in less than 20 seconds. It includes a high-volume transaction server to store a customer’s shopping profile and body measurement information. The data collected can be converted into body measurements for the purpose of size and styling recommendations, product customization as well as health and wellness indicators and progress tracking.

Speciality Software

Online Size and Stylist Recommendation Software

Database Licensing

Unique licenses its customer measurement database for use in body research, and technical design applications. This data could also be licensed in aggregate to apparel brands, or used for marketing to consumers through their affiliate programs through our mybestfit service.

Custom Apparel/Products

The program is available to retailers and apparel and lifestyle manufacturers who sell apparel and lifestyle products through an e-commerce portal; or want to enhance their brick-and-mortar customer experience with the ability to quickly size-match customers to their products. Managed Business Services An all-inclusive scanning service offered to industries which require high volume scanning (measurement collection) during a specified and short period of time. This service is aimed at those who would like the scanner to come to their location as opposed to sending people to an outside location. Consumer Reports Fitness and wellness Comprehensive Measurements.

Links to Unique Solutions News

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