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The University of Manchester Leverages 

Size Stream’s Mobile Sizing Technology 

See how the Apparel Design Engineering (ADE) Group at The University of Manchester is leveraging Size Stream’s body scanning technology to drive its research. This Client Spotlight shows how its work is paving the way towards better fitting clothing and hopefully greater accessibility of made-to-measure clothing for all.

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The University of Manchester’s Apparel Design Engineering Group, co-led by Dr. Simeon Gill (Senior Lecturer in Fashion Technology), is focused on the intersection of body dimensions, garment construction, and patterns. Its research looks to understand and exploit the underlying nature of these relationships to produce better fitting and better functioning clothes. Scanning technology is the cornerstone that enables the ADE Group to accomplish its work as it provides a richer source of data than manual measurements. 

“Body scanning provides a multitude of measurements that would not be possible from manual approaches, and these can be mapped into a relational network to develop bespoke patterns.” - Dr. Simeon Gill

The Opportunity

Simeon and his team acknowledge that traditional sizing models for apparel have been the standard method for filling store shelves for much of our recent history. However, this is problematic for most people on multiple levels and leaves large numbers of people dissatisfied with the clothing offered.

There is no sizing standard across brands, materials, cuts, or fits, which leads to a complete lack of consistency in a person’s wardrobe.

Traditional sizing models rely on taking an average of a large group of people and developing a garment based on that average. Unfortunately for the consumer, that “average” garment fits very few people well, leaving most out of luck.

As Simeon put it, “We have a sizing approach that looks at total population, and when you start to talk about it, you realize we've got a sizing system that covers at most 70% of the population. While that may sound novel, what about the other 30%? Where do they go and shop?”

The Answer

The ADE Group is responding to this issue by looking for ways to make the creation and acquisition of bespoke clothing simpler. Leveraging the data derived from Size Stream’s scanning technology is paramount to this work. To understand the importance of 3D body scanning in addressing this issue, it’s critical to appreciate why 3D scanning holds such an advantage over traditional measuring techniques. 

Size Stream’s 3D body scanning solutions allow Dr. Gill and his team to acquire over 240 distinct body measurements in minutes. Obtaining so many measurements manually would take hours! Also, having a digital process for taking these measurements means it’s easier to incorporate the data into the product development pathways. The opportunity to directly derive products from individual bodies is a massive benefit of scanning, facilitated by the depth of data which can be extracted from the scan data. 

Versatility is another advantage the ADE Group achieves by partnering with Size Stream. At a university, the individuals that act as scan subjects are primarily students and community volunteers, and the scanning is done on campus using the Size Stream SS20 booth scanner. What is most exciting is the ADE Group has begun leveraging remote scanning using the Size Stream Mobile Fit app.  Mobile Fit, available for iOS and Android, allows researchers to gather 3D body scan data from anyone with a mobile phone or tablet, thereby making data capture easier and less expensive. Both mobile scan data and booth scan data can be applied directly to drive bespoke patterns using parametric pattern methods, and Size Stream having opportunities for analysis of both data streams is a real strength. 

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The Learnings

One of developments that Simeon and his team are most excited about is the versatility of the Size Stream data and how easily it integrates with 3rd party software such as Lectra Modaris, JBlock, Rhino 3D, Grasshopper, and Seamly. With mobile 3D scanning and versatile open-source software like Seamly, anyone with access to scan data and this pattern construction software can create their own custom clothing.   

The team is also working to develop more capability around parametric pattern design to beat the sizing dilemma that many people face. Traditionally a bespoke manufacturer would take measurements and draft a static pattern with cardinal points along the cutlines. When the data arrives, the cardinal points are adjusted to match closely the dimensions of the consumer. However, with parametric patterns, it is more like free drafting each time, with each pattern developed fresh from the unique dimensions of the participant. The method leverages a deformable mesh approach that is algorithmically controlled based on the input measurements and other variables, calculating a new pattern each time for each scan.

The Future

With today’s unprecedented access to not only 3D body measurements but the ability to create custom patterns and clothing designs, the future is bright for made-to-measure and bespoke clothing. One critical piece to this revolution is accessibility, allowing those who are interested to engage with technology and understand how to make the most of it.  

“With the digitalization of the clothing development process, anyone with access to their scan data can leverage open-source programs to take their measurements, print the pattern and create their own bespoke clothing.” states Simeon. “We are excited to explore how this technology enables a generation of fashion engineers to tackle clothing fit and sustainability issues.” 

To scale this adoption and growth, the transference of data to small scale creators needs more development. Size Stream’s mobile scanning solution in combination with open-source design software is how this vision becomes a reality. Greater proliferation of these tools can make anyone a design engineer if the apparel community can continue to build training and exercises to develop others’ skills. Simple and inexpensive technology, sharing of best practices, a dedication to progress, and an open mind to where great fitting clothing can come from, will be essential to making bespoke clothing mainstream soon. 

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