WASHINGTON, April 12 (By Maria Young for RIA Novosti) – Imagine being able to try on 10 different pairs of jeans in 10 seconds. Now, imagine they all fit. Perfectly. And come in the exact shade and style you prefer.
That’s what happened to Maryland resident Veronique Vonlanthen Friday when she stepped into a Me-Ality digital sizing station at a Washington-area Bloomingdale’s department store, and came out with a list of sizes and brands that were just right for her.
“It’s definitely easier than trying them all on,” she said, adding with a laugh, “I’m hoping it will find something that makes me look skinnier and sexier.”
Similar to an airport body scanner, the station is part of a new trend in high-tech sizing technology that could help lure people away from online shopping and back into brick-and-mortar stores.
One important difference: sizing stations don’t take images of customers’ bodies, something many travelers objected to when they were going through airport security.
The futuristic-looking device is located right on the sales floor, nestled in between the racks of clothes and store displays. Customers step into a round compartment with clear sides, hold their arms out and wait as a laser scanner tracks a circle around them, using radio waves to measure their dimensions.
“It takes 200,000 data points of your body, basically reading the water molecules in your skin and then matching these very exact measurements to the different sizes that correspond to every brand of denim that Bloomingdale’s carries,” said Me-Ality Regional Manager Ahmed Aslam in an interview with RIA Novosti.
Me-Ality says a majority of women shoppers struggle to find clothes that fit, as evidenced by an estimated $45 billion in clothing that is returned to stores nationwide every year because of poor fit.
“Premium denim really does change from style to style and brand to brand, and it gets frustrating to try on so many. This is really about customer service,” Aslam added.
After about 10 seconds, the scanner spits out a personalized shopping guide that lists the shopper’s size and recommends styles and brands.
Vonlanthen was pleased to find several styles and brands she wouldn’t have tried, and said she would use the guide to help choose things she might not have noticed before.
The sizing stations are popping up in upscale locations all over the United States. So far there are roughly 30 in shopping malls nationwide. They can measure both men and women for a variety of clothing styles and brands.
Bloomingdale’s is the first department store to use sizing stations, adding them at five of its locations in Maryland, California and New York. So far it’s limited to women’s denim, but that could expand in the future.