When I first heard about Dressformer, I immediately recalled my last experience with online shopping. After ordeing two gorgeous dresses from an online only boutique and excitedly waiting for delivery of the purchase, I was so disappointed with the fit of both items, that I ended up returning everything. To avoid a similar situation in the future, wouldn’t it be great to try the clothes on before buying them, at least virtually? A new US-based startup company Dressformer makes ‘trying before buying’ possible for online purchases. I recently spoke with Dressformer founder Vagan Martirosyan and PR Director Valeriya Mnatsakanyan about the innovative technology behind the company.
What is Dressformer?
Vagan: Dressformer is a virtual fitting room that lets shoppers try on clothes online.
The main goal of the company is to help online retailers reduce their return rates, which are around 40% in the US and Europe. Dressformer’s 3D fitting system is simple enough for designers to present their collections in 3D, and for online shoppers to try them on virtually.
How can I try the clothes on if you don’t have the 3D model of my body?
Vagan: With Dressformer you can create your own to-scale 3D avatar that represents your body. All you need to do is upload your measurements (or have them taken automatically via webcam) and a photo of your face.
How do you get 3D models of clothes and shoes?
Vagan: Designers and retailers provide 3D models of their clothes. All they need is a digital camera and a mannequin with a flat surface (supplied by Dressformer) to present the clothes to be photographed. Designers have to take two photos of each garment on the mannequin, front and back, and upload them to the system. Dressformer then automatically generates each garment‘s 3D model.
How can the designers make a 3D image of their clothes look realistic with only 2 photos?
Vagan: Good question. Each garment has its own physical properties–fabric type and structure, density, stretchiness, etc. All these characteristics determine how a fabric hangs and fits on the 3D model. It is Dressformer’s job to make the 3D clothing look as realistic as possible. Designers have to upload their garments’ characteristics and physical properties, and Dressformer will adjust the 3D models accordingly. And it’s all math–we use multiple coefficients according to the uploaded garment’s characteristics, and use them to adjust to the 3D model to look more realistic. We have consultants with backgrounds in mathematics and geometric analysis on our research team, and are looking to hire even more qualified people. We are proud of the technology behind Dressformer’s 3D fitting technique; it’s sophisticated enough to produce a realistic impression for each and every customer. Currently, the company’s priority is to provide realistic photographs of the 3D models, giving the customers the most accurate fit. Within the next few months, accuracy of the modeling will be up to one centimeter.
Who will benefit from using Dressformer, and how?
Valeriya: Online shoppers, designers or clothing manufacturers, and online retailers may benefit from using Dressformer.
Dressformer’s Facebook app is free for online shoppers. They can use it either on Facebook, their tablet, or on an ecommerce website. Dressformer can make online shopping more fun, and helps users avoid the hassle of returns. They can share their looks with friends via Facebook, allowing them to give feedback on the outfits they choose.
Any emerging designer has a hard time selling their products or catching the attention of large retailers. But here they have advantage of competing with large brands by “digitizing” their whole collection in just a few days. After installing the Dressformer plugin, designers can offer customers the luxury of trying on clothes online, boosting sales. And online retailers who use Dressformer will be more willing to work with designers who have digitized their collections.
Online retailers are the lucky ones; they can benefit from using the Dressformer plugin in many ways, including: reducing the number of returns, increasing conversion rates and customer viewing time, gaining visibility by using social networks, and keeping track of valuable customer data.
Who are the biggest competitors?
Valeriya: Dressformer is sitting in a crowded market. There are a plethora of startups attempting to solve the problem of trying on clothes online, including Virtusize, True Fit, Fits.me, Metail, Clothes Horse, and many more. Virtusize, True Fit, and Clothes Horse address the problem of improper measurements and sizes, but they don’t allow users to create their own 3D avatar and “try on” clothes. The 3D quality of Fits.me’s models is quite good, but it requires taking thousands of photographs. The British company Metail is quite the opposite, and requires only two photos in order to create a 3D model, but they still working on improving quality of “digitized” clothing. So far none of them has yet to completely solve the virtual fitting room problem.
Vagan: Dressformer is a young company, founded in 2012. The company has already become one of finalists in MassChallenge 2013, a global startup incubator program in Boston, and has partnered with well-established brands in Europe, India, Russia, and the US.
Dressformer isn’t just another fun app for Facebook users; this product is a game-changer for the online fashion industry. There is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to achieving the full spectrum of functionality, realistic 3D models, and accuracy of fit. Dressformer continues to eagerly pursue business development worldwide.
Figuring out how to try on clothes online is a serious problem, and there is no immediate solution. Dressformer is addressing the issue by investing in research and development. They are building the solid technology to create a realistic fitting experience, but at the same time are making the process of digitizing clothing as cheap and easy as possible.