Tailor invests $100,000 in 3D personal clothing experience

Among Hong Kong’s traditional tailors one shop has hung up the measuring tape and swapped it for a 3D body scanner - one that can take more than 120 measurement data points in less than 10 seconds.

Customers are asked to wear a tight-fitting tank top and step inside a changing room equipped with 14 infrared sensors - eight in the front and six at the back.

The machine instructs the customer to stand at a certain spot and hold still while it does its work in under 10 seconds.

The data, including not just measurements of length and circumference, but also angles, is instantaneously delivered to an app on the tablet.

Matthew Lee, business development director at Charmston (Holdings) Limited, owner of the Gay Giano tailor, said the technology helps revive a trade that has seen a shortage of young tailors entering the industry.

“There’s a huge disconnect between these traditional craftsmen or craftswomen and the next generation. There’s no one taking over. So we felt that, if that’s the case, it’s either a dying trade or we can revitalize it with technology that could enhance or keep a better record of their knowledge,” Lee said.

Soddy Cheng, a tailor consultant who has been making suits for decades, said there are only roughly 200 tailors in Hong Kong, a city of 7 million people famed for its high-quality tailoring.

Much of the business has moved across the border - it is now common practice for tailoring shops to have their orders made in workshops in mainland China, where labor is less expensive.

Cheng said the body scanner has only replaced the one step in making a tailor-made suit.

“The tailors usually don’t meet the customers. But this 3D technology can help them visualize the customers’ body shape,” he said.

“So during the process of making the suit, they can easily imagine the customers’ body shapes, and also things like do they crouch? Do they stick their chest out? Do they have big bellies? These ideas can help them during the process,” Cheng added.

One customer, Alan Chan, who wore a custom made Gay Giano suit that he ordered after being measured by the 3D body scanner, said the scanner seemed efficient, as modifications were needed not for the fit, but the design - adding he planned on ordering again.

“Well, efficient-wise, of course being scanned inside a changing room is a lot more efficient. I’ve tried the traditional measuring method,” he said.

“It felt more personal, but it took up more of my time. And I felt like the 3D managed to measure more thoroughly and more parts of myself. If I had to go to a traditional tailor and have myself measured the way the computer did, I think that would take much longer,” Chan added.

Gay Giano claims it is the be the first shop in Hong Kong to utilize a 3D scanner in the business of custom made suits, although other tailors in the city have also claimed this accolade, including Isabella Wren, and other companies making clothes are adopting the technology as well in womenswear and lingerie.

Body scanners using 3D technology are also being used in other cities across the world, including New York and London.