This past year has been a serious roller coaster! All of our lives have changed with the pandemic of the Corona Virus and the regulations put in place to keep us all safe. For some of us, work slowed down or even halted completely. For others, like myself, work merely shifted and we had to go digital. In this article I will talk about my experience moving to virtual fittings and I’ll give you some tips and tricks on what I learned.
WHAT IS A VIRTUAL FITTING?
A virtual fitting is just like what it sounds: an online meeting where you fit the garments the client has sent to you. It is scheduled like a regular fitting, with Tech and Design present, to fit certain garments that come in and need changes and approvals.
What has changed is that there is a new level of preparation needed: scheduling the pick-up and drop-off of samples, getting your equipment set up for the virtual meeting, making sure you have all the necessary tech info such as logins and meeting ID’s. Hopefully, this article can help prepare you for some of these preparations needed.
Please let it be known that it took me quite a few fittings to get everything right, so don’t worry! Everyone’s in the same boat you’re in, as we shift into a new working paradigm.
EQUIPMENT: GETTING SET UP
I was very nervous when I did my first virtual fitting! So, I was in the same place as all of you are or were. The first thought that came to mind was “do I have the right equipment?” I had an older laptop, one large shared space to fit in, no backdrop, and a nosey cat and dog. After several upgrades and tweaking my setup, I can give you a list of equipment that I use plus a few suggestions of what you can use in your situation:
CLEAN BACKDROP: I have found that a light-colored backdrop is best for the camera; white is best, cream is good, but any light color will work. During a move, I found that a light blue wall worked in a pinch! I have a cream-colored folding screen that I can take out and put away, but when I started, I simply had a white sheet that I hung from my fireplace. I recommend an empty wall with enough space in front of it for you to put your laptop/tablet/camera and adjust them as needed.
LIGHTING: Yes, lighting is key but do not panic. When looking for a space to set up your fitting, look at what natural light you have. Natural light is best to see the samples true to color, but I understand that many people may not feel comfortable near a window, especially if you are trying on lingerie or something equally revealing. I do recommend getting a ring light. I have a large one that can adjust the brightness and warmth of the light.
Quick Hint! If your ring light has a setting to adjust the color of the light, you want to put is in the middle between cold (blue) and warm (yellow) light. This will be the closest to natural light.
You can get a small one to start and upgrade as needed. No ring light? No problem! Bring in lamps or what other light you have available in the house to shine on you.
CAMERA: Your camera depends on what you have available. I started on my laptop which was a little old and didn’t have the best camera. I moved to a tablet which is now much better but occasionally has its drawbacks as well.
LAPTOP PRO’S & CONS: You can type on a laptop much easier and therefore it’s easier to log into meetings. The laptop is also more stable physically, you can set it on a chair or table and not worry too much about it falling. Depending on the model, the camera is hit or miss. When fitting full length garments, you will have to adjust the camera and stand back pretty far for clients to see.
TABLET PRO’S & CONS: Definitely not stable physically! You will need to have a tripod for it or a steady place to set it and make sure it does not fall over. I highly recommend a tripod with a tablet mount if you are going to go this route with a tablet or an iPad. The tripod is easy to move up and down, and back and forth as needed. However, you will be doing more moving around yourself as a good 95% of the clients you fit with will be on laptops so their view will be horizontal while your view will be vertical. You can always rotate the tablet so your view is horizontal, but I prefer a vertical view so I can see full length.
Quick Hint! When fitting, pin your camera view so that your laptop or tablet acts as a mirror and you can see what you need to adjust.
EXTRAS: You will need safety pins and a measuring tape. You may not need the measuring tape that often but occasionally Tech or Design will ask you to take a quick measurement. You will need the safety pins more. On camera, Tech and Design can see where garments need to be pinched out/taken in/ or let out and they will take pictures for reference, but a safety pin put in place will be very helpful once the client gets the garment back.
AN EXAMPLE FITTING
Now I would like to give you an example of what a virtual fitting would look like. Included are tips I have learned along the way.
The client will confirm a time and date that work for all involved parties. Allow yourself time to receive samples and put together your set up. If you live in a shared space (housemates, SO’s, pets) let them know about your fitting so they will not interrupt. I usually secure my cat in another room just because he’s nosey, but the dog just sits on the couch to watch.
Once you receive the samples from the client, familiarize yourself with the order of trying them on. Some clients will send you a schedule for individual garments especially if they have different Design members signing on at different times. I usually coordinate all bottoms/full length garments together, so I only need to move the camera once or twice.
Do a trial run with your camera and lighting before the meeting. Simply turn on the camera in selfie view and adjust as needed. The camera should be about chest height for tops and midriff height for full length and bottoms.
Log into the meeting with the link the client provides. Make sure you have a contact you can text or speak with in case you are having problems. I like to log in 5-10 minutes before hand in case I need to troubleshoot. Make sure your phone is on vibrate. I do vibrate not silent because sometimes another Tech will try to get in touch during a fitting.
Once you log in, always ask if everyone can see and hear you.
During the fitting, have your measuring tape and safety pins nearby. Use the camera like a mirror and adjust the garments as needed or as the clients ask. Also have a chair nearby for the occasional sit test or you need to sit close and low to the camera for close up views for the client.
Once the fitting ends, make sure you exit properly. Sometimes the online meeting will need to continue without you especially if they are fitting with an additional model.
Pack up the samples neatly and coordinate with your contact about sample pickup. Don’t worry about folding the samples exactly the same way they were sent to you. The client will typically steam them once they get them back. Remember to send your invoice in immediately after the meeting or as soon as possible.
***I have done this many times! Always make a point to send the invoice for the virtual fitting as soon as you log out of the meeting. In the chaos of packing up the samples and making sure they get back to the client, I have forgotten to send the invoice. I have ended up sending it a day or two later when I remember. On that note, keep very meticulous records of your fitting schedule. My calendar is a life saver! ***
Going virtual can be intimidating at first, but please remember that the clients are often new to this process as well. You can always upgrade and improve your setup and it will be an excellent investment. You will quickly learn what works and doesn’t work for you. I prefer to fit on a tablet, my co-worker prefers her laptop. I lay my samples out on a table, she hangs hers on a garment rack. I have a large ring light because I have a very dark area so now, I can fit any time of day, and my co-worker has a studio with a lot of natural light so she prefers to fit in the late mornings and early afternoons.
Everyone’s situation is different as we continue to work during the pandemic, and everyone must adjust accordingly. I hope this article will help you as you move forward in your career. I am glad that I can pass on my knowledge and tips to others so that your transition will be easier. I wish you all the best.