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Former Levi’s Designer Jonathan Cheung Joins Unspun’s Advisory Board

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Unspun, the Hong Kong- and San Francisco-based robotics and apparel startup that leverages digital customization and automation to create “perfectly sized” jeans to order, is tapping into one of the Bay Area’s greatest denim minds.

The company announced Thursday that former Levi’s head of global design Jonathan Cheung is joining its advisory board. Cheung, who left Levi’s earlier this year after six years, is credited with galvanizing the denim giant’s comeback after two decades of decline.

Having Cheung vouch for Unspun is an extra vote of confidence, Beth Esponnette, Unspun co-founder, told Rivet. Along with advising Unspun, in his new role Cheung is helping the company connect with potential brand partners and is collaborating on products that will launch in 2021.

The startup’s problem-solving team and focus on fit lured Cheung to the company, but experiencing its 3D scanning process first hand made him a believer.

“I bought a pair and didn’t expect much,” he said. “Instead I was blown away by the fit. I know what it takes to get a fit right, and these were excellent and I knew they were onto something.”

Unspun’s process is centered around a 3D body scanner, which employs infrared sensors and a rotating disk to gather 100,000 unique data points in less than a minute. The company maps these metrics to create a virtual avatar, which it then enrobes in “digital denim” using proprietary software. By eliminating standardization, the jeans are the most accurate to the wearer’s unique shape.

“I think Unspun’s technology can help a lot of people, and by extension, brands, with finding their perfect fit,” Cheung said. The technology, he added, is “cutting-the-Gordian-knot of complexity” of finding the closest fit for consumers while solving an inventory problem for brands and retailers. “Everyone wins,” he said.

It’s a critical time for Unspun. Along with collaborating with brands like H&M Group’s Weekday to bring custom fit and on-demand fashion to the masses, the company is launching its own brand of customized jeans that are fitted by using an iPhone body scan.

When Covid forced the company to close its store in San Francisco and popup shops in Hong Kong, Esponnette said it pushed forward with its In3D app as a way to continue to scan customers. Though Esponnette said the company is still working on improving the user experience, Unspun managed to bring the app to market in June after just six weeks of development.

Through the app, the phone projects over 30,000 dots of infrared light on the body, which are picked up by the phone’s camera. The company’s software then reconstructs a digital avatar based on this depth mapping. The consumer can then select from a range of fits and washes as well as thread color, waist rise and hem or cuff details like rolled or cuffed to personalize their jean.

Jeans arrive in 14-20 business day. Retail prices range from $120 for shorts to $215 for jeans.

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