Tech startup Body Labs has secured a $2.2 million seed round to help it expand its platform to customize fit in the design and manufacture of apparel.
The round is led by early stage venture capital firm FirstMark Capital. Also investing in the round is New York Angels, along with existing investors in Body Labs.
Body Labs creates 3D models of the human body from individual body scans to create a unique and personalized pattern that can be used for the manufacture of custom-fit products. The new funding will help the company expand its technological capabilities and expand its existing platform.
According to Bill O’ Farrell, co-founder and chief executive officer, “The technology has been in development for over a decade….We have thousands of people in different shapes and poses [scanned]. Our view of the world is one that is becoming more personalized and automated. If you believe in an increase in mass customization, then the vital missing link has been the human body. We have had proxies for the human body, but now we can really use the human body itself as the platform around which goods and services can be bought, enhance and manufactured.”
The platform scans one’s body and creates an avatar. That avatar can be unlocked by the owner for customized products, whether its a suit, a shoe or even a helmet. The company is working with apparel brands and sporting goods manufacturers — client confidentiality prevents the company from disclosing names — to create products that can take into account fit and drape based on how the human body moves.
O’Farrell said the platform helps speed up the design process because it allows the creative director and technology director to work side by side and make changes before a product is cut, as opposed to cutting a sample, fitting it on a model and then making revisions and having to repeat that process three or four times.
Companies have long tried different ways to improve fit, whether by virtual mannequins that show how an apparel item might look when worn, or through fit comparisons of different brands.
Lawrence D. Lenihan, Jr., managing director at FirstMark Capital, said his company invested in Body Labs because “I am a massive believer in customization. This technology enables you to do it [and provide] customized apparel and fit.”
He noted that while its easy to take measurements, what most services don’t have is the additional ability of providing shape and movement. “Your measurements are different from your shape. This technology provides a mathematical model of what your body is, how it moves, and how it changes in different positions,” he said.
Lenihan said the 3D model shows the relationship from body to pattern, and allows one to compare how close one’s body is to the fit model used by a brand to determine whether that brand will fit better over a competing company. “In the luxury market, some of the worst fitting goods are also some of the most expensive. A mannequin is not designed for fit and movement,” he said.
The venture capitalist also said the new technology allows a level of perfection for anybody on this planet to have one pattern made and be able to use that repeatedly for customized fit. “This allows apparel to be made more efficiently with less capital and costs,” he concluded.