tailor-tape-1Can an app take measurements as accurately as a tailor? New online startup MTailor delivers precision measurements via your iPhone.

When Miles Penn approached Modern Fellows to review a custom shirt from his recently-launched technology-meets-fashion concept MTailor, I was skeptical.

MTailor’s pitch? A custom shirt that removes the need to take your own measurements or visit a tailor.

Download an app, set it down on the floor 10 feet away from you, spin 360 degrees, and — voila — you’re measured and ready to start selecting details for your custom dress shirt.

Mtailor-app

MTailor claims that their app measurements are 20 percent more accurate than a professional tailor — a statistic they came to by bringing in 4 tailors to measure 35 people, asking those same 35 people to measure themselves using the MTailor app, and then comparing the results.

Really? Well — yes — really, as long as you don’t mind spinning around in your underwear.  The shirt that MTailor delivered fits as well as any made-to-measure product out there.

Inside MTailor

Miles dropped out of a Masters degree program in computer science at Stanford to found MTailor, whose app made it to the Apple store in mid-February in Beta, and which launched officially on June 28.

The business came out of his frustration about not being able to buy clothing he wanted to buy online. Having to measure yourself poses a unique fit problem when it comes to buying clothes online.

“We cut out the time consuming measurement process,” says Miles. “Me and my cofounder went through a year developing the technology. We are math and machine learning people.”

He also recognized that measurements are not the end of custom clothing.  “There are elements of style too,” observes Miles. “We worked with a well-known New York tailor to understand how to translate measurements into well-fitting shirts.”

MTailor uses data analysis to provide insight into when they get the styling right or wrong based on customer feedback, and has made tweaks along the way.

mtailor-perfect-fit

Reviewing the MTailor experience

The MTailor website is sparse, serving mostly to drive customers to download its app, where the magic happens.

Its app is fairly intuitive, and the photos of the fabrics are decent if not spectacular.

Mtailor first prompts a customer to select a fabric.  There are a nice variety of fabrics – including a wild blue paisley and a wintry blue and brown flannel cotton — which can be sorted by “dress, all-purpose or casual,” though it would be nice to have some additional options (for example to sort by color).

Next, customers select from a limited set of collars — wide spread, straight point, regular button down and a softer casual button down. (Here too, it would be useful to have more information on the length of the collar points and spread of the collars.)

Mtailor-app-images

From there it is time to get measured up.  Start by watching a 50 second instructional video, which walks customers through how to place an iPhone down on the floor at a certain angle, stand back and turn in a circle.  You need to go shirtless or wear a spandex undershirt and briefs or boxers. (I wore a Ribbed-T undershirt, which worked fine.)

It’s an unusual experience, and it’ll be interesting to see how many guys are willing to give it a shot.

Miles suggested that “some people are concerned about getting measured in their underwear,” though said he thinks that “the barrier is actually lower than someone sending you a tape measure and asking you to do it yourself. The level of convenience is so much higher. If you want to order a custom shirt from us, within 5 minutes, you can place an order.”

He also noted that, after MTailor reviews your video, it is permanently deleted.

Mtailor-shirt-folded

While the app works well, it would be nice to be able do more via the website — enter shipping information, peruse fabrics and collar options, etc.  The small screen doesn’t do the fabrics justice, and my fingers managed to key in an incorrect address when I entered my shipping information via my iPhone.

As for the shirt itself? It fits like you would expect a custom-tailored shirt to fit. It’s slim but not tight. The sleeves sit right above my thumb; armholes are higher than off the rack shirts; and the collar frames my face nicely.  It’s a well-fitting shirt throughout, all without me having to take any measurements.  It’s an impressive feat.

The shirts are made in China by a manufacturer with whom MTailor works closely.  MTailor selects a rotating range of fabrics — also sourced from China — and stocks everything from 50’s and 60’s to 140 thread count.

The for my shirt — a light blue gingham that sells for $69 — isn’t Thomas Mason — but at that price point is a great choice for an everyday shirt.

MTailor-custom-shirt-collar

Customer service, alterations policy, and reorders

MTailor offers free shipping, and no tax. They pledge to get orders shipped to your door n approximately 3 weeks. It took a little less than that — 2 1/2 weeks — for my shirt to arrive.

The company offers a generous return policy — what they call “risk-free shopping.” They offer free remakes “if anything isn’t perfect,” and free returns, “no questions asked free refunds, even on a remake. No return shipping fee.”

Several days after my shirt arrived, I received a note from an employee at MTailor flagging that I should have received my shirt, and that he’d “love to know what [I] think. Remember,” he went on, “if there is anything you’d like to change, we’ll remake your shirt for free or give you your money back. Or, if you prefer, we can make a note for next time.” A month later, I received another email, asking how I liked my shirt a month into receiving it.

Nice touches.

Mtailor-shirt

Verdict

MTailor challenges the notion that tailoring is one of the few professions exempt from competition from machines.  If you can get past the strangeness of spinning in front of your iPhone in your underwear, MTailor is an outstanding choice for a solid and relatively inexpensive everyday shirt.

Miles notes that, “we’re working on expanding the product line,” and hopes to move into suits in the next year or so.

Photo credits: Featured photo (tape measure) courtesy of Ciara McDonnell / workshoppe via Flickr