Last year I heard that body scanners would be coming to malls in order to help you find your correct size. I've had my body scanned for the purpose of making shopping easier about 15 years ago for a catalog company I worked at. They made me put on strange bike shorts and a sports bra and scanned me in the back of a semi truck. I was given a card that in the future I'd take to stores and they would scan and tell me what I should wear. Yeah, that never really happened... they had an online avitar that kind of resembled my body shape if my body was squished in bike shorts and a sports bra that is. I could go online and try on wedding dresses on my fake me, and a few outfits from some companies I never shop at.
Well, I guess the future has arrived! A company called Me-ality is bringing scanners into shopping malls across the country. The first in the Midwest is at Water Tower Place in Chicago. Soon it will come to Mayfair in the Milwaukee area. We have been following this story at work and decided to take a trip along with our fit models to see how it works.
Above is the scanner kiosk. The kind woman asks you to fill out some basic information (age, email, etc) then take off any leather and step inside. The scanner goes around your body capturing measurements. Photo to the left shows our fit model in position. All goes pretty fast, just a few minutes.
A receipt like printout with barcode is generated. You take this to the computer stations and scan and see your suggestions. Right now it's only pants and jeans but they will be expanding with tops. You can print the list or send to your phone. The list is for stores in the mall. You can go online to create a profile and get more suggestions for online shopping.
We had 9 women in our group trying this, all a range of sizes/shapes. Overall,
it was a good guideline for what size to try but there were issues. Sales
people complained it was giving us styles they had marked down and limited selection of. It also didn't take into effect their knowledge of if the fabric is really stretchy and you should size down or if it's a real tight fit and most people prefer to size up. Most of the sales people we talked to said they wished the company would have asked them what they think because based on body types they would not have suggested some of the styles that they were listing. I spoke to some men that tried this and they said it worked great for them. These men were young and fit and probally do not have many fit issues anyway. Us women were much more trouble with our different body shapes!
The stores in this particular mall skewed more to the junior size, which no one in our group would typically buy. I was suprised it didn't give me any department store recommendations (like Macy's which was in this mall) since this is where I would typically shop. When I went online it did list department store options though.
Women's plus information was very limited. One plus shopper in our group received no recommendations and the other in our group that did get recommendations found that none of the stores on the list carried the plus sizes they were suggesting.
For me, it was a great guidline. Everything I tried on was something I probally would not have chosen myself and the fit was pretty good. The biggest issue with this type of technology is it doesn't take into account personal preference, which is probally the biggest concern with fit. Our missy fit model was given sizes that were a size smaller than she typically wears because she doesn't like to wear things so fitted or tight. Others in our group had the opposite problem. They were given a size bigger but they prefer to wear their jeans more fitted. Scanning may not solve all our fit problems, but it's a fun new way to shop. I'm sure they will make improvements in the future and will make our shopping lives much easier!
For more information visit http://www.me-ality.com/
by day as a Technical Design Manager at a very large underwear manufacturer! Days are spent writing garment specs, measuring, fitting and commenting on garments.