Making fashion fit using AI and 3D innovation
Post by: George Thaw, CEO of Fuel3D
How many times have you bought something to wear only to find it doesn’t fit? Depending on the brand we often have to size up or size down, making it hard for us to find the perfect fit online and on the high street. It’s not just frustrating for consumers, it’s costing the retail industry dearly too.
Thanks to online retailers’ generous free returns policies, it’s easier than ever to purchase multiple sizes and shapes and send back anything that doesn’t fit us. With the number of people shopping online increasing all the time, retailers face a tsunami of returns especially after peak shopping sprees like Christmas, forcing them to reengineer their reverse supply chains to cope, while eating into shrinking margins. Returns cost UK retailers a staggering £60bn a year. £20bn of this is generated through online sales1 with fashion the biggest category, accounting for around 25% of returns2.
There’s no doubt that free returns make shopping easier and more convenient but it doesn’t address one of the fundamental causes of the problem, that retailers need to understand the human form better and cut their cloth more innovatively.
A recent study drawing on government and industry figures3 reveals how much the female body has changed over time. 60 years ago, the average British woman was 5ft 2ins tall, had size 3 feet and was a dress size 12. Fast forward to today and she is 5ft 5ins tall, has size six feet and wears a dress size 16. Some of the more progressive retailers have been quick off the mark to cater better to all shapes and sizes, while others are still catching up.
As consumers we don’t want to be treated as a size, or an apple or a pear for that matter! Regardless of whether the motivation is fashion or function, or function with fashion, or whether someone is shopping for a bikini, bra, jeans, glasses or shoes, we all expect our choice of purchase to fit us.
Technology has a pivotal role to play in helping retailers keep pace with the modern shopper and in making it easier to find the perfect fit. We live in an age where bespoke customisation is the new retail frontier. Innovative brands are keenly experimenting with how they can use AI, machine learning and 3D measurement to help manufacturers improve the fit of their products, help consumers find that perfect fit and deliver a personalised experience.
Imagine a future where designers and retailers are able to scan their customers to create or order an impeccably fitted garment or pair of glasses. Now imagine how easy shopping would be if you received seasonal recommendations for clothing or sunglasses via your smartphone, based on your form derived from a simple scan.
For retailers looking to find increasingly creative ways to raise the bar, 3D innovation is about more than matching facial or body scans to glasses or clothes measurements. It’s a way to drive competitive advantage and disrupt the industry. At Fuel3D we’re using our core 3D technology platform to produce prototypes for a variety of retail applications from custom eyewear and virtual try-on to custom footwear and clothing. We’re looking at how we can integrate our platform seamlessly into distribution and value chains to deliver unique data to retailers and brands that are looking to redefine their customer experience and ensure their business fits the future.
Progressive retailers are leveraging the hottest technologies to drive change at every touchpoint of the customer journey and to give us what we want in the new retail landscape. 3D scanning platforms generating rich customer data will enable us to buy clothes that hug our bodies better and glasses that better frame our face. But perhaps most importantly in the years to come, this is a technology that is not only going to create a better experience for the customer, but one that is ultimately going to change the way we shop. And that’s got to be good news for all of us that struggle to find the perfect fit and good news for retail sales.
1. Clear Returns