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Denim shopping gets easier with digital sizing stations at malls

May 03, 2012|By Shan Li
  • Me-Ality digital sizing machines are available at several Southland malls.
Me-Ality digital sizing machines are available at several Southland malls. (Me-Ality )

Denim shopping, a frustrating process for all but the ultra-slim, is getting easier with the help of technology.

Seven Southland malls have installed digital sizing machines that scan shoppers and dispense shopping tips based on the person's shape and size.

Called Me-Ality Size Matching Stations, the machines are about the size of two telephone booths. To get measured, a shopper steps inside and stands still with hands on her sides. Once the machine is activated, a white column inside (called a measuring "wand") circles the person for about 60 seconds while taking thousands of measurements of her body.

Then the station spits out recommendations on particular brands, sizes and even styles that are best suited for the shopper's body in an easy-to-understand chart. Each machine is calibrated to recommend only styles that can be found (and purchased) at the mall where it's located. It works for men too.

At Westfield Culver City, I tested out the machine. Standing inside the sizing station felt vaguely like getting X-rayed at an airport (no wonder, since the machines have technology similar to the full-body imaging scanners popping up at airports now, said LaTitia-Delaine Owens, a Me-Ality manager).

After I got scanned, Owens printed out a chart of 20 jeans that fit my body type, starting with the best match, which in my case was a Levi's "Slight Curve Skinny" style in size 6/28. Price: $69.50.

Sandra Marquez, 22, a part-time concierge at the mall, wandered over and tried it out herself.

"This could be really useful for people who don't know what fits them or what style is best," Marquez said. "I know it takes me a long time to find jeans that fit, so I don't buy them very often."

The end goal for retailers, of course, is to persuade shoppers to buy more by reducing the hassle of trying and retrying clothes. The Me-Ality machines, made by Unique Solutions Design, are one of several solutions dreamed up by retailers and tech companies to take the guesswork out of sizing. At Westfield Century City, Bloomingdale's recently tested another body imaging machine made by London-based Bodymetrics.

In Southern California, Me-Ality machines can be found at Thousand Oaks Mall and the Westfield malls in Culver City, Santa Anita, Topanga, West Covina, Santa Ana and Valencia.

Measurements are free, but brace yourself for surprising news.

Marquez, who breathed a sigh of relief after checking her own chart, said several friends had been bummed out after finding recommendations for sizes bigger than they imagined themselves to be.

"It's kind of scary, because you think you're one size and then it tells you something different," Marquez said.

[Update: A Me-Ality spokeswoman said the sizing machines do not use X-ray technology to measure people but utilizes "harmless" radio waves.]


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