I was reading an article about how technology is creeping into the world of clothes shopping, or at least fitting rooms, when I hit a familiar wisdom: “But a size 10 in one shop can easily be a size 14 in another.”
We’ve been able to reduce the cost of clothes by producing them to a generic pattern in a range of sizes. That enables mass production and automation. The problem is that they’ll rarely fit the person who buys them perfectly.
What we could all do with is custom-made clothes, tailored to fit our bodies.
The sizes and shapes clothes are currently designed to are an average of a sample of body measurements. To make clothes fit each individual you would first need to get detailed measurements from each person.
You could ask for measurements taken by tape, but the article eludes to a scanner:
The Me-ality is a booth that scans you fully-clothed, from top to toe, and produces a profile of your body that is stored in a personal online account.
It then recommends items of clothing that will fit you best.
That’s all fine, but there are only 20 in malls across the US. Not much use to most people. Instead we need a home scanner, perhaps an adapted Kinect or similar, which can provide accurate size and shape information, a virtual dummy of our body.
This could then be uploaded to the store/fashion house you’re shopping at and sent into a production line where robotic cutters and sowing machines assemble it ready for dispatch.
One benefit would mean production moving closer to home, because shipping times from China would be prohibitive. The return of industry seems to be a growing trend anyway and robotics are going to play a big part. You could even have a machine in your house to make clothes on-site.
Obviously there are limits on buy and return with this approach, but we’d all get perfectly fitting clothes. You could even supply your data file to relatives for when they want to buy presents.
It could even be used to source used clothes potentially. Rather than sifting through racks of random sizes, you could be presented with a list of which clothes match your requirements.
I hate shopping for clothes, I’d rather buy online, but because the fit of any two identically-sized garments is a crap shoot, I’m still forced to visit a store (every now and then).
Generic is so last season, custom and tailored solutions are the future for everything. It’ll start off with the more expensive brands, but tailored clothing will eventually be for everyone.