Why Under Armour Just Turned to Avatars for Form-Fitting Sizing

Under Armour has joined with Alvanon to create a “fleet” of 3-D avatars to further digitize and standardize sizing in the fashion world.

Having already partnered on Alvanon’s “Body Platform” project — an ongoing effort to encourage brands and retailers to share their 3-D fit and “core body standards” with supply chain partners — the pair will now use the avatars to replicate UA’s proprietary fits, while fleshing out a complete spectrum of “real” bodies from infant size 0 to men’s 5XL.

“When we fit product on fit forms across the size scale, it does not always follow a mathematical equation of traditional grading,” said Jami Dunbar, VP of apparel and accessories development and supply chain operations at Alvanon. He added that Under Armour worked with Alvanon to understand and define those nuances and embody them in its avatars. “One of the things working in volume allowed us to do is consider a lot of different body shapes. Now we can move confidently in 3-D to fit bodies.”

There are several advantages to standardizing fit across brands using 3-D avatars. For one, Alvanon said the project should allow brands to create products with improved sizing and standardization, increasing fit accuracy — ultimately decreasing sizing fears among consumers, especially those who buy online.

Under Armour said it turned to the technology to reduce the time and cost of product development and to decrease the number of physical samples made during the creative process.

“Under Armour had been using 3-D in its core size for some time, and this was the next progression of how we can develop that on a full-size range and make sure we are fitting everyone in the market exceptionally well,” Tracy Rickert, senior consultant at Alvanon explained. “Today’s consumers expect apparel to fit and look good on them at every size. That’s where 3-D can help. Whether you’re using ASTM parametric or custom, we believe these virtual assets (standard avatar size sets) will help brands and retailers resolve their sizing issues much faster.”

Alvanon has worked with more than 1,000 brands to create a library of over 6,000 virtual bodies, each representing a specific brand’s fit standards — ever important in the world of e-commerce, where returns based on bad fit are endemic. Studies have shown as much as 30% of all returns are based on poor fit.

For Alvanon, 3-D technology looks to be the most prudent investment to cut both the costs and waste related to fit problems.

“3-D is definitely changing our industry; everyone in retail is starting to touch the technology,” Dunbar said. “And the beautiful thing about it is that there’s a great deal of collaboration across brands. Everyone protects their IP, but we all know working together is the way forward, and the way we’re all going to be able to visualize and make great product.”

Editor’s Note: This story was reported by FN sister magazine Sourcing Journal. For more, visit Sourcingjournal.com.

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