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Almost Custom: Stantt’s Shirts Come in 75 Sizes

It took little more than a playful dig from a date about his baggy button-down to make up Matt Hornbuckle’s mind that it was time for a career change. “I’m 6-foot-3, wide on the top, skinny on the bottom and I could never find clothes that fit,” Hornbuckle said. “That shirt had been my favorite but once she made fun of it I knew I would never wear it again.”

After recounting the tale to his Johnson & Johnson co-worker, Kirk Keel, the pair decided to do something about the plethora of ill-fitting men’s shirts on the market and together they founded Stantt, a New Jersey-based e-commerce start-up promising to provide a quick and cheap alternative to custom clothing.

Hornbuckle said standard sizing doesn’t fit and doesn’t work, so the first step was to work with apparel and university experts to create a patent-pending sizing technology. The result, dubbed DataFit, came from mining half a million measurements from about 2,000 body scans of men ages 25 to 35 to yield 75 shirt sizes with three measurement variables: arm length and waist and chest width. “We used our data to run an analysis against popular brands and found that traditional small, medium and large sizes give only 15 percent of men a great fit.”

Of course, data is just a bunch of numbers until it’s used to create something tangible. For that, Stantt approached Lectra, a manufacturer of high-tech equipment and software used by the fashion industry, which is aiming to revolutionize the fashion industry with its 3-D solution, Modaris.

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“The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words proves to be true internally and externally,” said Nathan McDonald. A business consultant with Lectra North America, he noted that 3-D can help not only in terms of speed to market but also by helping everyone in the design process visualize what the items are going to look like.

“Sizing and fit has to start with valid information,” McDonald explained. “Traditionally a brand would create a sample garment based off a fit model and hope its grade rule is correct and accurate but if a company doesn’t have a grasp on their target market or the body that they’re trying to fit, it’s really a case of trial and error, shooting in the dark.”

So instead of spending money on prototyping for all 75 permutations, Stantt was able to see virtually what each shirt size would look like and tweak sizing and fit accordingly. “We could immediately see where there might be fit issues,” Hornbuckle agreed.

The result isn’t a tailored fit — but it’s close and costs less money ($98) and time than an actual fitting. “People just don’t fit off-the-rack today,” he noted, which is probably why the project managed to raise more than $120,000 on Kickstarter in November of 2013 — well over its goal of $15,000.

Stantt shirts are Made in the U.S.A. from 100 percent cotton in a two-ply twill custom woven in Europe and feature the same premium touches as big-name button-downs: ultra-fine single-needle stitching; stainless steel metal collar stays, two-needle seams; and Mylar-backed acrylic buttons.

Six colors and patterns are currently for sale on Stantt’s website and Hornbuckle hopes to offer between 15 and 20 options before the year is out, as well as eventually expanding into pants and other categories. “What we’re trying to do is create the perfect experience for the modern man.”