Before Vincent Thériault and his brother, François, founded their men’s clothing chain Surmesur, fashion was an entirely new field for them.
“We used to be basketball players wearing hoodies and stuff like that,” says Vincent, a Quebec native with a distinct French-Canadian accent. “So when we told our mom we’re going into fashion, she was laughing at us.”
In the six years since they first launched Surmesur in their family basement, the two men have gone from being fashion illiterate to revolutionizing custom tailoring by using augmented reality (AR) technology. They recently launched the new service at their Downtown Pittsburgh store.
Using a handheld device equipped with Google’s Tango AR software, Surmesur customers can create 360-degree visuals of made-to-measure shirts. With the help of design consultants, they can choose from thousands of options, including fabrics of varying colors, patterns and materials right down to smaller details like monograms and buttons. Measurements are then done on-site by in-house tailors.
From there, the custom shirts—which start at $60 —take four to six weeks to make.
Tango complements Surmesur’s other efforts to incorporate tech into the shopping experience. The company previously designed The Studio, a proprietary “garment creation software” that also allows customers to visualize their sartorial creations.
Vincent points out that the high-tech approach makes the involved process of custom tailoring more on-demand. Customers can come in without an appointment, making shopping a “really easygoing experience.”
AR has seen numerous applications in the retail world, ranging from the interactive Shiseido Magic Mirror, which assists shoppers in choosing the right beauty products, to an app that lets you virtually decorate your home with IKEA furniture. But Sophie Miller, head of shopping and retail partnerships for Daydream at Google, believes Surmesur is taking the technology in a new direction.
“We look forward to seeing how AR will impact the custom clothing design space,” she says.
Though Surmesur has six official stores across Canada and two in the United States, Vincent sees Pittsburgh as the perfect market to launch their AR experience. While the city isn’t exactly known for being fashion forward (GQ once deemed it one of the worst-dressed cities in America), the growing number of young professionals settling here has led to a larger demand for more stylish, high-quality clothing.
“We’d go to New York or L.A., but we wanted to try a different market,” says Vincent. “Pittsburgh was the right fit for us. I was walking the streets and I saw a lot of people in nice fitting suits.”
He adds with a laugh, “Maybe they’re from us, but it was there.”
For more on the Surmesur AR shopping experience, watch the video below: