Bespoke tailoring used to be all about the relationship between the customer and his tailor, with the measurement and fitting processes being personal and intimate.
But now, all that could potentially change with the invention of the Bodymetrics pod, a futuristic-looking pod which produces a three-dimensional image of the client's body through a scanning process.
A London-based fashion technology company, Bodymetrics first launched its high-tech pod at London's high-street departmental store, Selfridges and more recently, the upmarket Harrods.
The Bodymetrics pod uses an optical scan to register up to hundreds of points on the client's body. The client first steps into the pod and stands in position according to the fluorescent marks on the floor. Light is projected and smoothed over the client's body before body contour data is gleaned in a matter of seconds to produce the body's exact measurements. This data would then be used to make a pair of made-to-measure jeans. Two weeks later – presto! – the made-to-measure garment is ready for a couple of hundred pounds.
Suran Goonatilake, co-founder of Bodymetrics says the idea of the pod came about from research studies in which 'national sizing' surveys in the UK were carried out to check if people were larger now compared to 50 years ago. "The original technology for Bodymetrics came out of the University College London (UCL) where researchers were using 3D body-scanners to gauge the size and shape of the UK population," she says.
Using the body-scanning technology, she then applied then it to a luxury retail context. "We started at Selfridges, Oxford Street, in May 2003, by offering a service where we would scan a person and then allow them to 'virtually see themselves' wearing different designer jeans. This was done by combining body-scanning with virtual-reality technologies and where the result was as close to a person going into a changing room and trying jeans on for real; if the jeans were too tight you could see on a screen that they wouldn't fit, or if they were loose, or just right."
Goonatilake foresees that the pod would have great prospects as an online retail platform as up to 30 percent of garments sold online are returned because e-customers are unable to properly gauge the correct fit of clothes they buy. "For about 80 percent of the cases [clients], we get it right without any fittings."
After Selfridges, Goonatilake launched the world's first designer jeans using the body scanner at the 2004 London Fashion Week with a campaign fronted by English supermodel Jodie Kidd. In 2006, Bodymetrics was launched in Harrods and it extended its product range to include custom-made suits for women, which proved to be quite popular. Today, the Bodymetrics pod at Harrods can also be used for labels such as Vivienne Westwood and Nick Holland.