It’s a problem we all know too well: you spend hours scrolling online to pick out what promises to be a perfect dress, only to have it delivered and find it’s too long, too tight and has awkward-looking sleeves.
Luckily, there’s an answer to this problem, as Israeli-run, Amsterdam-based startup ATALYE shows.
ATALYE combines technology and design to deliver well-fitting, eco-friendly dresses that are made-to-measure by simply scanning yourself with a phone app.
ATALYE founder Tal Atzmon Shaked (pronounced “shah-KED,” Hebrew for “almond”) didn’t originally see herself in the field of fashion.
“I’ve always loved fashion but I never thought of working in it, because I saw what it did to friends around me, how it made them feel and what it made them do,” she tells ISRAEL21c while on a visit back home to Israel with her two young children.
Two articles she read in 2015 left a lasting mark. One was about the collapse of a clothing factory in Bangladesh in 2013, in which 1,134 workers died. The other was about an app that scans the body to determine size.
“It reminded me of my parents’ stories of how in Israel of the 1950s there weren’t any [retail] chains and you’d go twice a year to the tailor.”
That’s when the thought of combining the two ideas clicked, but Shaked had no experience in either fashion or tech. When her partner took on a job in The Netherlands in 2017, she enrolled in a master’s program there specializing in entrepreneurship in fashion.
“It was an amazing opportunity for me to turn this idea into something tangible,” she recalls. “At the end of our studies, each person had their own booth to present their business to people from the industry and there was a prize. My business won the prize, so I decided that I’m really going to go for it.”
Shaked proceeded to study dressmaking. Together with a model-making and a coding company, she created ATALYE’s technology, a web-based software that can alter dressmaking patterns and create a ready-to-cut pattern.
This technology is now combined with a physical scanner located at ATALYE’s Amsterdam studio and with an app that enables buyers to scan themselves from home, allowing the startup to create the perfect-fitting garment for each customer.
Everything was put in place just before the outbreak of Covid. Once the pandemic hit, Shaked gave up on the idea of a store. She kept only the studio and launched the ATALYE website this summer.
Website customers don’t design their garment but rather customize one type of dress, changing its length, sleeve lengths, color and, of course, fit. The dress is customizable into 1,000 different designs.
Having a dress made-to-measure also has environmental benefits.
“Since we’re only creating each order to measure, we don’t keep large stocks of fabric,” Shaked explains.
All the fabrics are either “dead stock,” that is, fabric that didn’t sell and is headed to landfills; or eco-friendly fabrics such as Tencel.
The company only uses fabrics made in Europe, created in adherence to environmental regulations. The garments are sewn by dressmakers in the Amsterdam area.
“The vision is to grow and develop and offer fast fashion, only differently. Nowadays, green brands say that they create slow fashion, and made-to-measure brands tell their customers that their orders will arrive within a month. We promise delivery within two weeks, and I believe that we’ll be able to shorten that in the future.”
The concept of virtual made-to-measure clothing already exists, Shaked notes, particularly with two companies creating jeans and men’s suits this way.
But when it comes to women’s fashion, she says that ATALYE is the first, perhaps because of the difficulty of capturing women’s body volume using a scanner.
“Fifty percent of the population is in between sizes,” she notes. “In the online world, you don’t know whether things will fit or not. I don’t have a particularly unusual size, but I generally avoid ordering things online. There’s no standardization. Each brand works with different sizes and different cuts according to the customers it seeks.”
That’s why ATALYE’s slogan is “In our future, no sizes are needed. Just your body.”
Shaked says everyone who hears about ATALYE “gets really, really excited about it. It’s a very special experience for women; it makes them feel special.”
Retailing at around $200 per dress, ATALYE’s garments attract three types of buyers aged 30 to 50, Shaked notes: busy working women who don’t have time to shop but want well-fitting clothes; “free spirits” who are in for the new experience; and women interested in sustainable fashion.
Currently funded by a private investor, ATALYE plans on expanding in terms of the clothes it offers, collaborations with different artists and fashion brands, and its locations.
“The vision is that in five years’ time there’ll be five stores in Europe or Europe and the United States, and that these will have returning customers who can order online and be certain that the clothes will fit them,” Shaked says.
Finally, asked how many ATALYE dresses she herself owns, Shaked laughs.
“The cobbler’s children have no shoes. I’ve now started creating things for myself too, and my goal for the winter is that I’ll only wear my clothes. You of course have to believe in your product, so wearing it is the best possible way to do so,” she concludes.
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