Israeli fashion startup Infime wants to bring the virtual fitting room, an existing technology, to the $272 billion annual global bathing suit and intimate apparel market.
A 2016 eBay-commissioned survey showed that 95 percent of Israelis with internet-connected devices made online purchases the previous year, mostly on foreign websites. This made Israelis “the most connected shoppers in the world.”
While apparel is part of this trend, not being able to try on clothing is a major roadblock. Consumers are less likely to fill up their shopping carts and more likely to return items. To change this trend, engineers have been developing technology that replicates the fitting room experience.
Infime’s CEO Inbar Carmel, speaking on the phone from Berlin, says her company is focused on creating and perfecting an “automatically modeling technology” that takes the product from 2D to 3D, allowing consumers to see what the items will look like on them, not a model. In other words, they will be the model themselves, Carmel explains.
When they want to buy an item, users need enter their measurements — for example bra cup, height and hip sizes — and an image shows them how the item will look on their body.
“We want to allow any user to build their own ideal. You’re the ideal,” she said, with gusto.
Carmel says that intimate apparel is “one of the hardest, if not the hardest purchase for women to make online.”
The use of this 3D fitting room makes the modeling of collections “fast and simple,” at home or at an outlet, and allows shoppers to purchase items better suited to their personal tastes, and in greater quantity. Choices registered on the Infime website feed into an algorithm that in turn suggests clothing on the basis of body type, season and lifestyle. Customers can scan items and can see how it looks instantly, without going in a fitting room. The site then provides data to the seller and to the store.
Carmel says the software can integrate with any e-commerce site. Forty percent of Infime consumers currently use the 3D fitting room technology.
This technology can be used in the store or at home with a smartphone or tablet.
“We basically bring the online experience to the physical store,” said Carmel.
Carmel says that integrating the 3D fitting room with virtual reality technology is the next step, but as of now “the market isn’t there yet.”
A success story in 3D try-on technology is French-based startup Fitle. Started by Charles Nouboue and Gaetan Rougevin-Baville three years ago, Fitle was initially crowdfunded and now works with a range of French and international clients, including H&M and Levis. The Fitle app uses a similar technology to Infime’s, relying on measurements and pictures to render a “customized 3D avatar” in less than a minute.
Nouboue said that despite the lack of a major promotional campaign, more than 100,000 people have used Fitle’s technology. Brand partnerships are the key to making the 3D fitting room experience the consumer norm, he noted.
“When you sign big brands, the user will follow,” he said in a phone interview from Paris.
Nouboue said that Fitle’s experience with the technology on its own shopping platform has been impressive – a 40 percent increase in sales and a 30 percent drop in returns. He said it’s a “game-changer.”
“It will change the way people buy garments online,” he said.
Carmel has no doubts that 3D fitting room technology is the future of online apparel shopping.
“Definitely,” she said. “I feel the market, I see the market. I hear the retailers and the customers… It’s definitely going to be the norm, online and also offline.”
Carmel is currently in Germany for meetings with interested potential partners, and is also in talks with US-based retailers. She explained that while e-commerce in Israel is slowed down by taxes, shipping costs and postal problems, the Israeli consumer is still ahead of the curve.
“Israelis are early adopters. The users know how to shop online,” she said. “The customer is smart.”