Inside Arden Reed's Tailor Truck.
Thanks to fashion's ever-evolving symbiotic relationship with technology, the online custom suit market is booming. Today there are well over 40 e-tailors who can create a custom suit in a matter of weeks with little hassle. But not all are created equal. In the past year, a few have begun to innovate by incorporating stunningly original enhancements, like idiot-proof self-measuring guides, webcams, and 3D body scans.
Year launched: 2007
Who they are: A pioneer in the online, self-measuring custom-suit biz, Indochino continues to expand its range of customized shirts and suits while keeping prices relatively low (suits start at $449).
What's New: The Ultimate Tech Collection, which launched in January 2013 features Italian merino wool suits treated with an invisible stain-blocking, wrinkle-resistant nanotech finish without changing the traditional feel or appearance. The collection also features an inside, touch-responsive smartphone pocket with an unobtrusive earphone hole in the lapel, so you can listen to music or talk hands-free. Also expanding this year is Indochino's Traveling Tailor, a multi-city pop-up event where you can view the company's suiting options firsthand and be measured by a trained tailor.
Company: Acustom Apparel
Year launched: 2011
Location: New York
Who they are: At its New York headquarters Acustom Apparel employs "proprietary Digital Bespoke technology" (basically a high-tech body scan) to determine your precise measurements in just 30 seconds. Working from a 3D image of your body, you co-create your own custom suit (starting at $699). The process does require a visit to New York to be measured, but once your scan is in Acustom's system you can re-order anytime from home.
What's New: After launching bespoke jeans and seasonal shorts and polo shirts this past summer, Acustom Apparel recently introduced 3D-image-created custom chinos and has opened up a storefront in Soho for a more traditional shopping experience complete with a digital bespoke scanner, of course.
Company: Arden Reed
Year launched: 2012
Location: New York
Who they are: Following a humble start in a college dorm and a successful Kickstarter campaign, Arden Reed made its e-commerce debut in 2012 by selling suits (starting at $497) and shirts. Customers can follow a detailed measurement guide and submit their stats online, or book an appointment for a 3D body scan inside Arden Reed's roving Tailor Truck.
What's New: Inspired by the food-truck movement, the new Tailor Truck is another Kickstarter-funded project that's launched Alden Reed into the burgeoning world of mobile retail. The truck toured major cities on the West Coast this summer and is currently based in New York City. A second vehicle is scheduled to be on the road in the spring of 2014. What's in the truck? A product display case, waiting area, and a fitting room with a 3D body scanner that takes a 1.5 million-point full body scan to get your exact measurements.
Company: Knot Standard
Year launched: 2010
Location: New York
Who they are: New York-based Knot Standard offers suits (starting at $495), shirts, and accessories but raised the online suit-buying convenience bar by letting customers choose from four different methods of getting measured. You can mail in a great-fitting suit that you already own for tailors to copy, input your self-made measurements online, bring the company's measuring sheet to a tailor, or use a webcam. And if you run into problems, advisors are available 24/7 for help.
What's New: Launched this past summer, Knot Standard's webcam-measuring tool allows users to pose at home in a dark, fitted outfit against a white background while holding a CD or DVD (if you have any left, that is) at your belly button for scale. In a few minutes the system creates a full-body scan, which it then compares to a database of thousands of records. The measurements are rounded out and adjusted to account for your clothing, posture, and breathing to render the final 3D image of your likeness.
Ever tried any of these services? Tell us about it in the comments.