Miles Penn and Rafi Witten are the cofounders of MTailor. They began working on the technology using artificial intelligence algorithms for over a year before launching their app in July 2014. The original premise was to create custom clothing for men. The company has since started testing women’s apparel, beginning with jeans.
Penn, who is the company’s chief executive officer, said, “We used the [mobile] phone to develop the technology. We told people to [have] the phone upright, stand six feet away so it can take a full-length photo and spin around once. Because we were figuring measurements, most of the men would send photos of themselves wearing an Under Armour shirt and shorts. Using AI, from that spin we can build a 3-D scan of the whole body and get a digital measurement on everything from the bicep to the chest measurement and other areas.”
Penn said the “algorithms help to measure one from home in a way that is also 20 percent more accurate than using a tailor” the old-fashioned way. That’s because the body scans incorporate more touch points than what a live tailor would measure. The technology was first launched with iOS in mind, whether for cell phones or on the iPad. An app for the Android system is forthcoming.
Penn and his cofounder both graduated from Stanford University, and had a heavy course load in the area of AI. Penn said the idea stemmed from when he was working in finance and went to get some custom clothing. “It was expensive and time-consuming just to get measured. Even just normal clothes shopping felt like I was spending a lot of time to get clothes that [fit] just OK.…You shouldn’t need to spend hours to get measured, and with our app, it’s all done within 30 seconds,” he said.
The company is vertically integrated, with manufacturing in Bangladesh and fabric sourcing done locally, although some fabrics are also sourced from China. A typical order is completed in under two weeks, and some items such as shirts can be filled in about a week. Starting price points for men’s shirts are $69; jeans, $69; chinos, $99; dress pants, $169; blazers, $349 and suits, $499. Women’s jeans start at $79.
Khosla’s investments in the fashion sector include apparel brand Everlane, custom footwear firm Shoes of Prey and Feetz, a start-up that uses its SizeMe program to perform a 3-D scan of one’s feet via an app to generate properly sized shoes using 3-D printing.
Keith Rabois, lead partner from Khosla on the deal, said, “Advances in the quality of smartphone cameras now allow anyone to make an accurate scan of their body from their home in under 30 seconds. There is no reason anyone should be wearing off-the-rack clothing, when MTailor can provide professional-level custom clothing.”
So far MTailor has raised $5.6 million to date. The Series A includes $3 million in new money, and $2.2 million in SAFES from a seed investment from Khosla, which was converted to equity in the Series A round. SAFES are a form of debt similar to a loan that are converted into shares of preferred stock when the Series A round is closed. The balance was an initial friends and family raise.