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Fashion Enters a New Era: Toronto Company Invents the Virtual Tailor

TORONTO, Digital Journal — If there was ever an “endangered species” in the ecosystem of commerce, that title would have to go to today’s master tailor.

Tailors, especially the North American variety, are an aging population with tendencies towards fatigue and impatience. Many began learning their craft at a very young age and have practiced it for decades, often at the entreaties of a desperate boss. They’ve watched fashions come and go, but always understood the value of a good, made-to-measure suit.

Though their numbers are dwindling rapidly, Toronto firm Sartorial Instruments and Technology thinks it has the solution. No, they’re not cloning tailors, but they’ve come up with the next-best thing: The Fitter Measurement System.

Essentially, The Fitter consists of a tall backboard standing on a 36-inch-wide base, a pair of arms that measure posture and levelness and some high-tech measuring tape with barcodes at quarter inch intervals.

In about 10 minutes, a trained employee can use it to take 46 measurements that are automatically inputted into a sophisticated software program. It makes some recommendations, spits out an order form and it’s off to the manufacturers who will eventually deliver the perfect suit.

The Fitter was developed over the last four years by father-and-son retailers Fernando Rego Sr., Fernando Rego Jr. and Paul Rego, owners of the successful Rego Bespoke Clothiers in Toronto’s Exchange Tower. Fernando Sr. has been in the business for 42 years, and first came up with The Fitter as a brilliant exit strategy.

Made in Canada (with some parts imported from Germany), the physical unit is a fairly simple tool. More impressive, however, is the included software and Web-based ordering system co-developed by Paul Rego, the company’s young president.

Incorporating the standard set of measurements used by an old-world tailor, it also takes into account various styles, customer preferences, even posture and variations in shoulder incline. These tweaks can be entered into the system and it adjusts accordingly. If the customer returns six months later having gained a few pounds, his data can be altered in an instant.

At $10,000 per unit (including a customizable backboard), Paul Rego says it pays for itself in efficiency, lower tailor shop expenses, customer satisfaction and return rates. The Fitter will immediately tell the salesperson what, out of your current inventory, will fit the customer. It also turns each employee into a master tailor — a breed Paul Rego predicts will be extinct within 10 years.

Another bonus is the “helping hand” effect of its arms: A female tailor no longer has to physically hug customers to measure their chests. She can also hand the tape over to the shopper when it comes time to complete the always-awkward inseam measurement.

Currently, Samuelsohn Ltd of Montreal, Quebec is the first manufacturer to officially support the Fitter. However, Paul Rego estimates that there are about 2,000 finer clothing stores in North America that would be well-matched to incorporate this system.

“Tailored suits used to be associated with those more mature in age or bank account,” chuckles Rego, whose store targets the more upscale of the Bay Street crowd. “But we find awareness, especially among younger people, is increasing.” Manufacturers these days can easily adjust a stock pattern, Rego says, making a custom suit only $100 or $200 more than ready-to-wear.

Rego says sales have increased by more than a third since integrating his Fitter system. That kind of figure would suit any aspiring businessman just fine.

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