Ever faced the dilemma of size vs. fit? There’s the size we think we are, and there’s the size off-the-rack apparel tells us we are, and there’s the size you’d discover you are if you had clothing tailored to your specific measurements. Not only is fashion sizing confusing, but it makes it more time-consuming to shop in-store and online. Me-ality, one of the most recent examples of body scanning technology to enter the mainstream, has set out to solve that problem with mall-based body scanners.
Me-ality (named after the term measured reality) operates on the premise that, by taking your body’s exact measurements electronically, your shopping experience can then be tailored so that you find clothes within the mall that will perfectly fit your body and your style preferences. I tracked down one of the closest me-ality scanners to San Francisco (where we’re based), and it turns out it’s in the Sun Valley Mall in Concord. I headed there on a recent weekend to try it for myself.
Here’s how it works: It’s a free service, and I began by answering a few questions about myself, including my name, age and email address. I then stepped in the body scanning machine fully clothed and was asked to remain perfectly still. What ensued was nothing more than a trip through security at the airport, though considerably less invasive.
The body scanning technology uses a vertical wand that revolves around the outer edge of the glass to bounce radio signals off of the water in our skin. About 15 seconds later, the machine had recorded my measurements based on over 200,000 points of reference on my body. And just like that, a customized shopping guide based on these calculated numbers was printed and ready for me to take shopping.
At the Sun Valley me-ality kiosk, shoppers can currently get recommendations for jeans, tops and dress pants, though they’re working on expanding selections to include more categories.
The most impressive part of the me-ality experience is the individual shopping guide you receive after scanning. It can be tailored to your needs and includes information on garments that will flatter your shape, price range, brands and retailers. The guide uses a color-coded bar to indicate which items on the list will offer a more ideal fit based on your body’s measurements.
Once I received my customized shopping guide, I was off in search of the garments that promised to provide the most flattering fit to my body. Here’s what I found: oddly enough, while the jeans I tried on did undoubtedly fit, they were less form-fitting than I’m used to. I would have preferred a closer fit to hug my (barely there) curves. So while they were flattering and felt comfortable, I usually prefer a slightly different look. It left me questioning whether or not I’ve just grown accustomed over the years to a tighter fit on all my garments.
This is not to say that the technology was wrong, but simply that fit is not just about measurements, but also about personal taste. When I went to try on a few of the recommended tops, I found that most were to my liking in both fit and style.
Other perks for me-ality users: if you opt-in to receive updates, me-ality will email you when there are updates to the system, including new brands, retailers or categories of clothing. And once you’ve created a profile, you can also access figure-flattering apparel at different locations across the United States.
In the Bay Area, the me-ality machine can also be found at Valley Fair Mall, and there are many me-ality locations around the state and elsewhere in the U.S.
More tech-savvy shopping….