MyBodyModel, a web-based design app that allows users to create a custom fashion croquis, launches today.
A croquis is figure drawing used in fashion illustration. Designers sketch clothing onto a croquis while working out a new look or collection. Croquis for fashion illustration are typically highly elongated bodies that aren’t representative of real women.
Typical croquis used in fashion illustration..
MyBodyModel is different because it allows users to enter their measurements to create a custom croquis with the proportions of their own body.
The app is the brainchild of Erica Schmitz, a sewist in Portland, Maine, who saw a need for a more realistic croquis a few years ago when she first began sewing her own clothes. She wanted to work out the details like hem length, sleeve style, and neckline before sinking money and time into each new project. “I really wasn’t able to find anything that looked like me and my body,” she says. She tried to make a croquis by tracing a picture of herself, but it didn’t really work. “I decided to create an app that could do it with a click of a button,” she says.
It turns out that hundreds of people thought she was onto something.
In August of 2017, she launched a 23-day Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $20,000. 725 backers contributed $26,867, far exceeding her goal.
Maine Technology Institute, a publicly funded non-profit that offers early-stage capital to help grow technology businesses in the state of Maine, provided crucial financial backing as well. MyBodyModel received a $5,000 grant to fund market research and testing last winter. The Institute also gave MyBodyModel a $20,000 matching grant for the Kickstarter funds to help get the project off the ground. “I had to really demonstrate that this project would support Maine jobs and business innovation within the state, and also that I had a viable product and viable business plan that would in the future result in economic benefits to the state of Maine,” Erica explains.
For the past 15 years Erica has worked as a consultant for a maternal and child health organization in Maine and prior to that, she led youth development and arts programs for a community non-profit in North Adams, Massachusetts, so she had the organization and business skills she needed for a big project like this. For now, she’s keeping her day job, but long-term she says she’d love to earn enough revenue from MyBodyModel to hire herself full-time and bring on a team to grow the business.
To create the croquis itself Erica posted on Facebook that she was looking for a local illustrator and found Janet Antich, an Italian artist who now lives in Portland. As MyBodyModel adds new features, such as a hands-on-hips pose and a back view, she hopes to continue to work with Janet.
For the app development, she worked with Portland-based Big Room Studios. Erica says the team has been exceptional, even though it’s taken months longer than they’d anticipated getting the project launched. “If something doesn’t exist, if you’re really truly creating something new, there’s almost no way to estimate how long it’s going to take,” she says. “You just know you’re going to try out a few approaches and continue learning. It’s a very iterative process.”
They chose to begin with a web-based application that’s mobile-optimized because it was the most straightforward and accessible to everyone regardless of device. Future plans include developing a mobile app as well.
MyBodyModel is free to use. Once you’ve created your custom croquis you’ll need to purchase a credit to download it as a JPEG and PDF file.
- 1 credit = $20
- 2 credits = $30
- 5 credits = $60
Your croquis stays in your portfolio on the website and once you’ve paid for it you can download it as many times as you’d like. Erica says she wanted to be sure there was a significant price break on the two croquis package. “So many women were concerned about changing sizes,” Erica explains. “A lot of us, our body fluctuates year to year, or even within the same year, and so we wanted to offer a very affordable way to purchase two credits at a time.”
Erica worked closely with a pool of eighteen users to test the app at each stage of development and get constructive feedback. Through them, she realized the importance of providing both a digital and printable croquis. “I found that a lot of women love paper, love to keep things in binders, have physical bulletin boards on the wall, but there’s also a lot of makers that love using their tablets to design, so we wanted to be able to offer both,” she says.
Users can upload the JPEG of their croquis into programs like Adobe Illustrator, Sketchbook, Procreate, or similar apps where it’s possible to use digital layers to mix and match different wardrobe elements.
She also realized that knitters were equally as excited about MyBodyModel as sewers. “When you sew a garment you feel like it takes forever, but knitting, that’s a lot of hours. So I think there’s additional motivation to make sure that you’ve got the silhouette right and make sure you know what neckline you want, how long you want the sleeves to be, things like that.”
The initial audience for MyBodyModel is the hobby DIY fashion community making clothes for themselves and for family and friends, as well as dressmakers and costume designers, but Erica is also interested in working with fashion colleges that could use MyBodyModel as an instructional tool.
At the Maine College of Art’s fashion design program, students learn fashion illustration with the traditional croquis and pattern drafting using standard sizing. Their senior project, though, is a fashion show with volunteer models from the community. “Nobody fits the standard pattern sizes that they’ve trained on this whole time,” Erica says. “So there’s a mismatch between what they’re trained on and what they need to deliver.” This spring she’s hoping MyBodyModel will prove helpful.
This summer, as MyBodyModel enters the next stage of development, Amy Herzog is coming on as a tech advisor. Amy’s background in knitwear design and software development (she created the CustomFit knitting pattern generator) makes her the ideal team member. My Body Model plans to be out of beta in a few months and will launch version 1.0 in the fall.
For Erica, launching MyBodyModel is the realization of a longtime dream. “Every body is different. You know this if you make clothing for human beings,” she says. “Every body is beautiful. I believe this personally, no matter what we’ve been led to believe by the media and by the fashion industry. That’s really what MyBodyModel is about.”
Check it out at MyBodyModel.com