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Start-up Beawear uses AI to solves e-tailers’ sizing and returns problems

By Simone Preuss

15 Dec 2021


Image: Beawear via ThokkThokk

German Start-up Beawear, launched just a few days ago, has dedicated itself to tackling the fashion industry’s many different sizing systems - or the “Wild West” of sizing, as it calls it. Starting from the premise “Imagine you’re shopping online and everything fits,” founders Verena Ziegler and Dr Frauke Link use artificial intelligence for virtual try-ons, thereby also doing something for the environment.

“The fashion industry has a data problem: the human body is not standardised and manufacturers are fishing in the dark when it comes to the actual measurements of their customers. A linear mass production cycle established over decades, which produces an oversupply of clothing on a stockpile basis, is one of the reasons why the textile industry is now one of the world’s biggest polluters,” says Beawear in a press release.

How does Beawear work? With the help of a 3D body scan, the company creates a “digital twin” of the customer that can be taken easily and from anywhere via any mobile device. Through gaming features, the customer’s body scan is then transformed into a virtual avatar that can be customised as desired. According to Beawear, this is not only fun, but the distortion also serves as data protection.

Image: Beawear

In a further step, this digital twin then acts as a gatekeeper, so to speak, selecting the suitable sizes from partner shops for the customers and algorithmically recommends products based on the individual body shape and not the size mentioned on the product.

“Fashion has to be rethought; it is not the body that has to adapt to standardised fashion, but the other way round, a garment has to be thought of starting from the individual body,” explains Link.

This means a dual advantage for online retailers: they not only save on returns but also get to know their customers better. Researchers at the University of Bamberg found out that in 2020, 280 million parcels were returned in Germany alone; around 40 percent contained fashion items. In many cases, the wrong size is the reason for a return or often, customers will order garments in different sizes and then return those that do not fit. This means a high CO2 impact on the environment and additional costs amounting to billions for retailers.

Image: Beawear

By integrating the Beawear software, which can be easily done for any online shop as a plug-and-play tool, brands and retailers receive regular statistics on the purchasing behaviour and, above all, on the real body shapes and sizes of their customers, which are anonymised in compliance with data protection. Armed with this knowledge, they can then react to their customers’ wishes and adapt production to actual sizes and body shapes.

“Our mission is to create a transparent supply chain that uses data and artificial intelligence to break the cycle of overproduction and provide a magical shopping experience that empowers consumers with their own body data to make informed purchasing decisions,” sums up Ziegler.

Ziegler and Link met through the Open Innovation Lab at the University of Technology, Business and Design in Konstanz, Germany, an interdisciplinary learning lab for digital fabrication methods. While Link specialised in the digitalisation of bespoke tailoring, Ziegler researched transaction processes from three- to two-dimensional surfaces and developed a simulation programme. In 2019, they founded their start-up OpenDress to further develop their ideas and concepts for the market and Beawear was born.