5 Minutes With Chris Richards, Co-Founder & MD, Formcut

Chris Richards is the co-founder of Formcut, a new online menswear retailer that uses a cutting-edge system to create the right garment size for each person. It recently opened a showroom in London, where people can get their sizes measured in a 3D body scanner. We caught up with Chris to find out more.

Formcut founder Chris Richard's ambitions to use 3D tech to shakeup retail
Chris Richards has just launched Formcut, a new fashion retailer that specialises in using 3D tech to give customers the right size, all the time.

Congrats on the launch of Formcut!

I can tell you it’s something of a relief! To get our proprietary 3D body scan to factory solution up and running we had to disrupt the entire supply chain from front to back. It would have been impossible without the hard work of a multi-disciplinary team from completely different worlds. To see it now all running smoothly is a real credit to them.

Tell me a bit about Formcut.

For me it started in a hot changing room in Regent’s Street. One of many failed shopping trips where I was finding clothes I liked but they just didn’t fit or look how I wanted. It was packed and slow, I settled on a couple of pieces that stayed in my wardrobe and never saw the light of day. I thought there must be a better way than this.

My story was driven by a pain, but much of our talented team was drawn to the project because of their simple desire to make the best possible garments for all people, which is impossible with standard sizing.

Can you tell me a little bit about the 3D technology you use?

The Formcut system creates a unique garment size for each person’s body. At our showroom in the City people get measured in our 3D body scanner and then have a shirt made in their unique size. Customers can then reorder their unique size in any fabric choose. The 3D scanner itself uses 20 infra-red sensors to collect two million data points of your body.

Formcut founder Chris Richard's ambitions to use 3D tech to shakeup retail
The Formcut showroom in the City of London, where customers can find out their unique clothes sizes through a 3D body scanner

What gap in the UK retail market does Formcut strive to address?

It’s for anyone that struggles to find clothes that fit and wants a more enjoyable and personal shopping experience. It’s also for the shopper that appreciates an exceptional product – we only offer the world’s best fabrics and mother of pearl buttons come as standard. For the moment we are focused on menswear but are already testing women’s garments.

How is Formcut’s business model different to other menswear retailers?

We are first and foremost an ecommerce business. You have to visit our store to get scanned, but from that point onwards you can shop online for a variety of garments cut in your unique size.

What’s in store for Formcut in 2020?

We want to become the clothes shop where everything fits and little is wasted. We want you to be able to shop for your entire wardrobe using our technology, including your favourite brands, with all garments cut in your unique size.

In 2020 we are keen to get forward thinking and innovative brands using our technology so they too can deliver exceptional personalised garments to their base.

Formcut founder Chris Richard's ambitions to use 3D tech to shakeup retail
Customers can shop online using their unique Formcut measurements obtained at the London showroom.

How is Formcut addressing some of the challenges facing the retail industry as a whole?

The volume of garments that end up in landfill worldwide is staggering and when you factor the energy used to produce them you can see why retail has such a bad reputation. If each garment is personalised for your taste and body, the discounting cycle ends, there are no trucks ferrying returns back and forth and because it is a better product, you will use it more.

What would you say is the biggest risk for the retail sector, given the current climate?

The speed of the ecological movement is taking some brands by surprise. I do think this is a watershed moment where some brands will appear out of nowhere and some big names could fall if they don’t move fast enough.

Describe your role and responsibilities at Formcut.

I am the co-founder and managing director. Our team is small but perfectly formed, so I’m pretty hands on at every level of the business.

Formcut founder Chris Richard's ambitions to use 3D tech to shakeup retail
Formcut combines tailoring experience with the latest technology

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Formcut.

I had no retail experience at all. I used to be a portfolio manager at an investment boutique in Mayfair.

What got you into retail in the first place?

Coming out of finance I did some work for Tom Adeyoola, the chief executive of Metail, a fashion-tech startup. His irrepressible belief that the sector was ripe for disruption was really inspiring.

I enjoy retail because there are so many problems that can be solved creatively in the space and because it is relatable, I can talk about it with everyone, and everyone has an opinion.

Formcut founder Chris Richard's ambitions to use 3D tech to shakeup retail
Formcut uses 3D technology to measure the body and design unique menswear

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Getting positive feedback about what we are doing from industry veterans. When you scratch the surface there is a real hunger to improve things at the heart of this industry and it is great when you can find and harness that enthusiasm.

What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?

There are so many new brands with a real social mission now. At the start of your career I think you can take a few chances and make a few mistakes. Take a chance on a brand with a cause that resonates with you because you are just going to enjoy doing the work so much more, and chances are the brand’s customers will feel the same way as you do and it has a good chance of growing with you.

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