If you’re looking to update your office wardrobe but aren’t in the mood to step out of the house, a tailor is usually a phone call away.
Not every tailor, however, can bring their store to you – especially if it’s in a bus that has been kitted with a walk-in wardrobe, flashing LED lights and some Tony Stark-level 3D scanning technology.
Last month, the Singapore mobile tailor company A Gentleman’s Tale unveiled its mobile showroom bus, a customised Mercedes Sprinter van that doubles up as an actual fitting room.
It’s the latest innovation from a company that’s been continuously taking its mobile tailoring services to the next level since it began in 2015.
“We started using public transport four years ago – we’d carry our backpacks and luggage into MRTs or buses, and squeeze among commuters going around Singapore,” recalled Kenneth Chia, who co-founded the company with Lyn Chan.
A year later, the couple bought a small van and customised it with a pop-up changing room, some shelving units and a place to do a bit of office work. A container van office for those who were fine with travelling to their River Valley office followed soon after. But these weren’t enough – they wanted something bigger.
“It started with crazy idea – why don’t we get a bus where someone is able to stand inside and we can do measurements and fittings like how we do it in a shop?” said Chia, 35, adding that around that time, they also chanced upon a company that was bringing in some 3D scanners and they signed up to get one.
3D BODY SCANNING EXPLAINED
So how does it work? Customers make an appointment and they’ll drive over to your place, where they’ll talk you through the choices of fabrics and the designs of the outfit. After which comes the fun part: 3D body scanning.
The service is located at the back of the bus. Male and female customers up to a height of 1.85m stand in the middle as they’re scanned using infrared light from sensors located at the corners of the space. The scanner measures 127 points of the body, which is then translated into a computer rendering that can be instantly seen on an iPad. The entire process takes all of two seconds.
According to Chia, accuracy is at 98 per cent. “But it’s based on wearing as little clothes as possible – if you’re wearing baggy clothes, the scanner will scan that, so you’ll need to wear form-fitting clothes,” he said. Stripping to your undies will produce the best results – and don’t worry, the space has curtains to provide privacy.
3D scanning helps to immediately see things invisible to the naked eye, they said, and is much faster and accurate. That said, Chan also pointed out that there are also advantages to having your measurements done by an actual person.
“With a tailor’s experience, we can give some allowance suitable for one’s body shape and lifestyle – say a teacher who moves his or her arms a lot when they talk or young ones who work out and want something fitted,” she said.
But, let’s face it, feeling like you’re Iron Man getting suited up sounds more fun. “Most people do get thrilled by the idea of standing in front of a 3D scanner!” said Chan, 40.
Cheap thrills aside, the technology also addresses the issue of being measured by the opposite sex. “A female client might not be comfortable with me measuring her crotch area if Lyn is not around, so 3D scanning takes care of that,” said Chia.
NEXT-LEVEL MOBILE TAILORING
All in all, the entire process from measurement to getting one’s suit, shirt, skirt or pants takes a total of 21 days, which includes a couple of trips for fittings.
Prices start at S$600 for an entry-level suit or around S$130 for a shirt or pants. For more expensive branded fabrics, be prepared to shell out S$1,000 for a suit or S$250 and S$350 for a shirt and pants, respectively. And as of now, the prices are the same whether you request for a bus house call or you drop by their premises.
Since it’s still fairly new, the bus hasn’t been making its rounds apart from trial runs with friends. But Chan said they’ve signed an agreement with a company that manages around 35 condominiums, which will enable them to drop by these for starters. There are also plans of participating in pop-up events. “As long as the place has a loading bay or an open air car park, this bus can go,” added Chia.
While it’s fairly new – they pointed out that their bus was the only one of its kind until one from China popped up last week – their high-tech approach to mobile tailoring is something they hope will eventually catch on.
According to the co-founders, A Gentleman’s Tale’s majority of clients are working professionals between their late 20s to late 40s. A huge majority are men but more women are cottoning on to the idea (they’ve also got a sub-label called A Lady’s Tale).
“It’s really about providing clients with a sense of convenience, so they don’t have to travel. And we do notice that four years ago, there weren’t that many mobile tailors around. But these days there are a lot – even if they don’t use a van or bus fitted for the actual purpose,” said Chan.