A Digital Transformation for the Tailoring Business

3D body scan enables accurate data capturing to make custom-fit garments.

Tailoring as an artisanal craft is one of the last few traditional industries being disrupted by technology.

To get local custom tailoring or dressmaking, we would walk into a shop, consult with a professional on fabrics selections, style choices and body measurements. After the garment returns from the making, we visit the store a few more times for fittings. This process could take a week or longer to complete before we are happy with our new clothes.

Some made-to-order boutique fashion brands want to shorten the process time and labor involved. Instead of measuring the client with a measuring tape, the tech-forward minded ones implement 3D body scanning to capture the customer’s body measurements at the storefront. Each scan takes merely a few seconds.

A computer software visualizes the data gathered from the scan to render a 2D and 3D outline of a customer. The customer’s data and the software’s algorithm then generate a unique pattern for printing in seconds. The piece of custom-fit garment goes into production either by hand or machines sewing.

As the body-scan technology matures, an upside of using it is to allow the cameras and sensors to record more data points following the contours of a human body. As women’s bodies have more data points to account for than men’s, the 3D scan technology maximizes the information to create a more accurate pattern.

The automation process bypasses a human pattern-maker to draft a different pattern caters to a new customer every time. It also reduces the number of fittings and alterations after the garment is made.

In small-scale productions, computerizing the tailoring process frees up time for designers to focus on the creative side of the business: design new apparels, advise customers and style the attire. The creatives can do all that in a few clicks on the computer and render an image to visualize the designs at the same time.

This digital made-to-order tailoring business is built for e-commerce. A customer only needs to be scanned once for the body measurement data, assuming the customer doesn’t change body size drastically over time. The scanning takes place at the boutique equipped with the technology or at a body scanning facility link to the business. That could also be abroad where the scanning facility has a presence. Therefore, expanding physical branches is not necessary.

For the customer, he or she creates a profile with the body measurements on the retailer’s web account. They can shop online and customize their apparel such as sleeve designs, the color of the collar, and more. Repeated customers only focus on mixing and matching the next stylish outfit. They place an order online and patiently wait for the boutique to ship them.

The custom-made garment strives to reduce returns. But if the clothing requires alterations after the customer received the item, some boutiques cover a fee up to a certain amount for modifications locally. Some retailers accept returns if they determine technical glitches before ordering.

Mahesh Vasudevanallur, Practice Head for Retail and Consumer Goods at Tech Mahindra adds, “Personalization is by far the most important driver of customer experience, be it a physical retail store or a digital business. Combined with augmented reality based fitting rooms, precision scanning technologies allow for body structures, fits, colours and preferences to be customized at the touch of a button. The use of these cognitive/ AI powered interfaces allows the retailer or e-commerce business to engage with consumers effectively and create truly personalized shopping experiences.”

As the competition of fashion brands intensifies to gain market share, businesses that create a more satisfying and positive shopping experience can build stronger customer loyalty. Leveraging precision technology to make custom-fit apparel in a shorter period is an edge in the era.