Euveka's 'robot mannequin' aims to shake up fashion production
French start-up Euveka is about to (possibly) pension off the historic wooden mannequins still found in the world's couture ateliers. Its president Audrey-Laure Bergenthal, 34, has created a robotic mannequin that could be the answer to many of the fashion industry's sizing and sampling needs.
In this digital age, it's an apparently simple idea, but nobody had thought about it until Euveka, set up by Bergenthal five years ago, started working on it. And now the concept has been awarded a prize at the Luxury Forward conference in Paris.
Euveka's female mannequin is made of silicon and textile fabrics, and is equipped with a simple production-monitoring software that could revolutionise the apparel industry.
"We employ robotic technologies based on morphology and biomimicry. It will be sufficient to scan a person and enter all the parameters into the system. The mannequin can adapt to a range of sizes, from 36 to 46 [UK size 8 to 18], and can morph into the desired shape in less than two minutes. It's then possible to create a garment prototype in the exact size of the client, or of the target market's morphology," Bergenthal explained.
"The greatest difficulty in manufacturing garments is to tweak a size in relation to a specific fabric or a certain body type. Euveka can make this much easier," she added.
Once a prototype garment is created, the mannequin is able to discover any defects, using its sensors to detect things like fabric pressure or solvent toxicity, like a quality controller.
"The idea came to me because my mother always complained of not finding clothes to suit her size," said Bergenthal, a specialist in industrial property law who dropped out of a master's degree course at Harvard University to devote all her energies to this project.
She started a course in fashion design to understand if there was a real need for such an innovation. She then worked in both haute couture and ready-to-wear fashion, set up a bespoke wedding dress business and worked as an innovation consultant and fashion design lecturer, to help finance her project.
"I didn't think it would be so difficult. As a woman who launched herself into robotics without being an engineer, it wasn't an obvious thing to do. But I didn't give up," said the entrepreneur-inventor, who last year secured funding from French bank Crédit Agricole, now a minority shareholder in Euveka.
The company is testing the invention with a major French label. "Results are highly encouraging, I was told it's a product the industry was dreaming of. The first models will be ready next January, and the order book is open," said Bergenthal.
The Euveka robotic mannequin seems to have a very flexible future as it can also be used in sport, the security industry, the military and the medical sector, with the ability to use it for creating uniforms or customised prosthetic devices.
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