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Amazon Wants to Scan Your Body

Sizing is so yesterday, according to Amazon Fashion’s newest venture.

Three years after it acquired data-capturing startup Body Labs, Amazon on Tuesday rolled out a virtual fit tech platform wielding what it says is the most accurate technology available, all in a bid to personalize a key staple in everyone’s wardrobe: the humble but always hip T-shirt. Though Amazon wouldn’t say whether Made for You incorporates any data or developments from Body Labs, the incursion into this high-tech niche in fashion marks a major move forward for a company better known for selling six-packs of socks (despite a luxury launch helping to facelift that image).

Made for You addresses one of the biggest customer complaints about shopping online: which size is the right size? Size-guide charts offer some clues, but sizes can vary wildly from one brand to the next, leaving consumers to interpret inches or centimeters, or bravely bust out the measuring tape to capture—often imperfectly—their own dimensions. It’s a broken system that directly contributes to the onslaught of clothing (and shoe) returns burying digital retail, as shoppers hedge their bets by buying items in multiple sizes, fully intending to send back whatever doesn’t work.

Users of Amazon Fashion's Made for You platform can see how their T-shirt looks on their digital twin prior to buying.
Users of Amazon Fashion’s Made for You platform can see how their T-shirt looks on their digital twin prior to buying. Courtesy

Amazon says Made for You flips this equation on its head. Rather than forcing consumers to pick from pre-determined sizes on a wing and a prayer, the tech titan asks shoppers to snap two photos through its mobile app and submit their height, weight and body style to build their avatar and model different T-shirt styles. (Amazon says it safeguards privacy by deleting user photos once it has generated the digital twin.)

This personalized system, Amazon claims, offers a breadth of choice compared to the traditional process of shopping for Ts. Made for You shoppers pick from different sleeve lengths, necklines, slim, classic or relaxed fit, and eight color ways, building their T-shirt in a 100 percent Pima cotton or Pima-modal-elastane blend. For no extra cost above the $25 price tag, they can also add their name to the back-name label for a truly tailor-made touch. And they can see how each style adjustment appears on their avatar prior to deciding to commit, giving them greater confidence in their purchase and reducing the likelihood of returns.

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Amazon harnessed its network of influencers to fete Made for You’s arrival. Dapper and debonair Instagram icon Blake Scott touts his T-shirt as “my new favorite” while “plus-size” style-setter Caralyn Mirand says her “tee is like magic.”

Shoppers trying out Made for You are limited to purchasing personalized T-shirts for now but Amazon says customer feedback will inform when and how the platform expands. It wouldn’t divulge much about how extensively the body-scanning platform was tested before Tuesday’s big reveal and whether pilot stages recruited a wide range of body types among those being virtually twinned. But Made for You just might mark a milestone in Amazon’s efforts to revolutionize the process (and pitfalls) of purchasing clothing based on pixels on a screen.