01 Dec 2014

Taking Tailoring High Tech

Jamal Motlagh (MBA 2011), Cofounder and CEO, Acustom Apparel
Re: Olga Vidisheva (MBA 2011); Hayley Barna (MBA 2010); Katia Beauchamp (MBA 2010)
by April White


Jamal Motlagh began research for his fashion business at HBS, with male classmates who were beginning to recognize the importance of being well dressed. They were part of a larger trend: According to the NPD Group, the menswear market in the United States outperformed the womenswear market last year, topping $60 billion. But these newly fashion-conscious men didn’t want to spend lots of time and money on shopping and tailoring.

Motlagh’s solution: use technology to update and brand traditional bespoke tailoring and create a low-inventory retail business model.

More Retail Revolutions

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Shoptiques founder Olga Vidisheva (MBA 2011) offers all the technical tools and support a small shop needs to get started in the e-commerce world and a one-stop boutique shopping portal for customers.

Thinking Inside the Box

Hayley Barna and Katia Winter Beauchamp (both MBA 2010) created Birchbox, a wildly successful monthly beauty-samples subscription service that has inspired countless in-a-box imitators.

Motlagh’s Acustom Apparel showroom in Soho, which opened in 2013, has some things in common with a traditional tailor, as men try on sample jackets and discuss lapel width and lining options. But instead of measuring tapes, there’s Molly, a 3D scanner that creates a mathematical model of the shopper’s body. The more than 200,000 measurements collected in just seven seconds are translated into patterns for jackets, shirts, pants, and even denim, for a fraction of the cost and time commitment of a traditional bespoke tailor. The efficiency of the technology allows Acustom to sell jeans—one of the most difficult tailoring challenges—starting at $225, about a quarter of the going price for custom denim.

“As a brand, we’re trying to meld traditional practices and expertise with unique technology,” Motlagh says.

Next: Katrina Lake (MBA 2011) — Dressing by Number »

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2011, Section A
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