Automation has disrupted many industries over the past few decades, from online movie streaming, to travel booking, and even automated trucking and drone delivery. And yet, for some reason, the clothing industry has been significantly lacking in technological innovation. From the stitching of clothes, to proper sizing, to fit and feel, the clothing industry has been plagued with antiquity and inefficiency.
According to Business Insider, Amazon, along with other tech startups, has attempted to solve this problem using 3D body scanning technology. Unfortunately, the technology is bulky, expensive, and therefore out of reach for most consumers. That's why return rates are still high and customers are still searching for a better solution. Other businesses have simply tried offering customers generous return policies, but have still made little ground in solving the root problem of improper fit.
New Manhattan, a tech startup based out of LosAngeles, has approached this problem in a very unique way: custom tailor every garment to fit the customer perfectly. They use 4 body measurements and complex algorithms and predictive modeling to map out the customer’s body shape and size. From there, they tailor it to fit using their proprietary automated tailoring machine. Although it seems obvious in principle, the implementation of such an idea was previously impossible – until new advances in automation has made it a reality. New Manhattan can tailor a piece of clothing in minutes, and the measurements can be easily captured by yourself with a $2 fabric measuring tape, making it easily mass-marketable. All while keeping everything in the United States.
Even though automation may be the key to fixing the industry's problems, people still want to continue buying the brands they connect with. That's why New Manhattan has started to create partnerships so they can provide customers with perfectly fitted garments from their favorite brands. In November, New Manhattan signed its first partnership with the dresses brand Pose and plans to aggressively expand into more partnerships through the first half of 2020.
As more tech startups scramble in the race to solve these age-old problems in the apparel industry, time will tell whether the solution is digital, like 3D body scanning, or physical automation, like New Manhattan’s custom-tailoring. Or perhaps the apparel market of the future will consist of both digital and physical innovations working symbiotically. No matter what direction the industry goes in, there’s no doubt that solving this billion dollar problem with have a lot of interest and excitement in the years to come.