Was not about hula hooping but that would have been fun, right?
My brother texted me last week while on vacation with my family. “Let’s plan a Skype date. I want to talk to you about a cool business idea.” I didn’t know if this was the booze talking but I agreed. I was worried but he assured me, “I really have a solid business idea that I want to talk about. Brother to sister.” Yeh, right.
Our Skype date happened two days later, on Monday night, and it started by him outlining his observations about women and their wardrobes. He expressed how women have so many clothes yet only they only wear a handful of them and that’s because of poor fit. Duh. This was not news to me. He continued. He recently purchased a made-to-order suit from an online retailer, Indochino, and as part of the ordering process, he was required to take several measurements. They supposedly input his measurements into a system and, poof, a perfectly-fitted pattern was made just for him. He didn’t use the word poof – I added it for effect. Then came his business idea. According to him, an algorithm exists, which would be based on a set of unique measurement, that would create a perfect pattern for any shape and he wanted me to come up with the algorithm. Do I look like Nikola Tesla?
Remember what Jackie said yesterday in her interview? She said that the difference between making a pattern by hand and making a pattern by computer was that the former was more couture, custom made, and bespoke. “A body is not perfectly proportioned – one arm is longer than the other, one hand is bigger than the other, and one side of the body is fatter than the other. You can account for a body’s quirks with hand drawn and drafted patterns. But in the computer, the pattern has to make sense and everything has to be equal – the left has to equal the right and the right has to equal the left,” she said. No computer or algorithm can create a perfect pattern. What the computer can do though is create a generalized pattern, by which I mean a pattern that has been made to fit many sizes by removing the curves, scoops, and odd shaping that would make it unique to one person. From there, the pattern can be altered again to fit a unique set of measurements. I’m guessing, but I am not sure, that this is how Indochino works. It has a set of block for different shapes and silhouettes (think of jeans – it has a pattern for a boot leg, straight leg, wide leg, etc) and when a customer purchases a suit and sends their list of measurements, it matches their measurements to the closest pattern. From there, their pattern makers adjust the pattern to fit the particular customer. In any case, the perfect pattern did not just appear from a formula.
Yes, a formula exists for a perfectly fitted and sewn garment but that equation can’t be done with a calculator – someone’s hand has to play a part in it. A calculator can perform simple additions and subtraction in the equation of a garment but a mind’s common sense and hand must finish it.
The other thing about pattern making and sewing is that there are so many factors that go into making one article of clothing. The pattern, the fabric, the trims, the interfacing, the thread, shrink percentage, stretch percentage. These are only some of the variables that equate to a garment and the variables change from garment to garment. No computer can take into account all these factors. Again, a human brain and common sense have to be involved for 2+2 to equal 4.
James ended our Skype date by saying, “Seriously, think about this. I really think it’s possible.” I hate to be pessimistic, dear brother, but I think it’s a lot more than you think. Your dream and visions are admirable, just like Jay Gatsby, but I have to be the Nick Carraway in this situation – realistic.