My Virtual Model Tailors Web Site for Males

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MyVirtualModel.com has added a male model to its personalized virtual model pool and is planning to include a children's version in the spring.


The male version made its online debut Nov. 3, almost two years after its female counterpart. On Monday, the site began allowing users to take their models to other sites within its network, which includes Lands' End and JCPenney. The site also enables users to e-mail models with a wish list of gift ideas, said Louise Guay, president of My Virtual Model Inc., Montreal.


The e-mail component gives shoppers the opportunity to purchase gifts -- especially children's clothing -- online without worrying about size or the look of the item.


Since the site's launch in 1998, Guay said there have been approximately 7,000 daily visitors creating their own 3-D models. She anticipates the number will increase as the site adds more e-tailers to its network. American Eagle has been confirmed with others scheduled to be announced in coming weeks.


"Since we've created My Virtual Model, the reaction from women has been fantastic," Guay said. "We now have the male version and we believe it will become just as popular. We're also looking at adding more items to enrich the shopper's online experience."


The models were created to allow customers to create an image of themselves trying on clothing.


"It's always a problem for people who shop primarily through catalogs to see how an item will look on them," she said. "They cannot try it on or mix and match at home."


But there are pitfalls to using the virtual models.


"You have to be honest," she said. "You cannot lie about your measurements or the model won't be an accurate representation of the individual."


Lands' End was the first American retailer to use My Virtual Model -- previously known as My Personal Model -- when it debuted on its site in 1998. Since November 1999 about 1.5 million customers have created virtual models.


My Virtual Model, however, isn't without skeptics.


When the 3-D personal model was created, Guay said that many in the e-tail community warned that consumers wouldn't want to see their image and would create models that would not accurately reflect their body type and measurements.


"They are right, but I believe that the interaction with the image of yourself will be a different experience because of the communication between the user and the model," she said.
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