A custom shirt startup thinks it has found the key to making bespoke garments using artificial intelligence. Rather than having users measure themselves, Original Stitch’s new Bodygram feature uses computer vision to extract the dimensions of a user’s favorite button-down shirt and replicate it.
Original Stitch was founded in 2015, and it has always promised to let men pick out unique shirts that were made just for them. But the company’s existing process requires customers to measure themselves and then extrapolate the fit of a shirt from their proportions.
This older process of measuring someone’s body could lead to problems, according to Original Stitch CEO Jin Koh. Measurement errors and a dislike of form-fitting shirts can make it a bad experience.
“People who have never tried a custom shirt and who try it for the first time, they don’t like it because it feels too tight sometimes,” he said. “What we found is that guys just want to get a shirt that is predictable and consistent with their favorite fit.”
That predictability and consistency is what Original Stitch is trying to achieve with Bodygram. Users lay their favorite shirt flat, place a sheet of paper on it, and snap a photo with their smartphone camera, and the system can figure out measurements from there.
The company’s aim is to make it easier for people to get custom shirts that fit, which could make online shopping more useful for people who are sick of having to try on a bunch of shirts to find one or two that fit.
The shirts themselves will cost a pretty penny. Original Stitch’s most budget friendly models start at $50, and the majority of the shirts available cost upward of $80. Customers can also add to that price by picking out custom fabrics for their shirts’ collars, cuffs, and plackets (the technical term for the strip of fabric in the center of the shirt that holds the buttons).
Only 3 percent of orders using Bodygram result in returns, according to Koh, compared to 23 percent of orders using Original Stitch’s previous system.
The machine vision model powering Bodygram for men’s shirts also provides Original Stitch with expansion options in the future. Koh showed images that demonstrated how the system could be applied to other articles of clothing, including shoes and women’s wear. He doesn’t see the company moving into manufacturing those products, but it could serve as a marketplace and/or a technology provider for another retailer.
That’s the idea, anyhow. In my experience, the system wasn’t picture-perfect the first time. As part of my reporting, Original Stitch offered to make me a shirt to test the system out. I took one of my favorite button-downs (a grey number from H&M that I picked up a few years ago), flattened it on my kitchen floor as best I could, stuck a sheet of paper on it, and snapped a picture.
The company doesn’t currently offer a self-service version of the measurement tool, so I emailed the team the photo of my shirt, and they sent back the resulting measurements that Bodygram extracted. At that point, I could have pulled out a tape measure and double-checked those results, but I wanted to test the experience of just sending a photo and not verifying the results.
My resulting shirt (which arrived about 10 days later) was beautiful. The fabric felt lightweight without being flimsy, and it looked like the sort of thing I’d choose to try on in a store. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit right. The upper chest was too tight, even though the rest of the garment was perfect.
Original Stitch will remake shirts to better fit its customers if they don’t come out right the first time. It’s possible to dial in your measurements, though you’ll have to wait for the company to make a new shirt. In the end, the company’s goal is to have a precise enough set of measurements that users won’t go shopping off the rack — they’ll just order another shirt they know fits them.
I didn’t put the return process to the test, because I’ll be donating the shirt in accordance with VentureBeat’s ethics policy. However, for people who can see themselves buying multiples of such shirts, dialing in a profile seems like a solid option.
For folks wondering about shrinkage, I ran my shirt through a single wash and didn’t notice much difference in how it felt. That may change based on your fabric selection, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about it if I reordered from Original Stitch.
Speaking of reordering, I still haven’t decided if I’m going to use these measurements to buy a shirt from the company. I’m not exactly in dire need of anything at the moment, and the price is a bit high for me. That said, I’d be quick to give them another shot if I was in the market for something a bit more customized.