To Virtual Reality And Beyond!

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Just imagine

if you could sit at your computer, in the privacy of your own home,and virtually try on Lands’ End clothes. Wouldn’t that be exciting?

Sort of anyway? At least better than watching “Say Yes to the Dress” or “Dog the Bounty Hunter”?

Well, you could do that on the Lands’ End web site of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, with a nifty little tool called My Personal Model. It allowed customers (women only, but we know guys were messing around with it too) to create a cyber model of themselves. Which could actually be a little bit unsettling: hips narrow or wide? Waist narrow or generous? Hair dark, blonde, red or gray?

You could name your model (we called ours Inga). Then, we laid out eight outfits that might be particularly flattering on your figure type, and you could take them into the “Dressing Room” and try them on. (Thankfully, My Personal Model did not say “Ouch!” or “Oof!” when you zipped up the pants.)

My Personal Model got us a boatload of free publicity, making us a real dot-com darling. More important, our customers seemed to love playing around with this new tool. It was the first in a series of Lands’ End internet innovations, which eventually included Lands’ End Live, Shop With a Friend, Swim Finder and even Lands’ End Custom, an online personal tailor that let shoppers design custom-crafted pants and shirts in minutes. Still, My Personal Model seemed way cooler than anything else.

But you know how it is sometimes – you can’t leave well enough alone. So a few years later, we came up with an enhancement for My Personal Model, sending a 48-foot-long body scanning truck around the country so customers could get scanned, then build a cyber model online with THEIR EXACT MEASUREMENTS! In all, over two thousand people got scanned in 14 cities, as the truck racked up over 70000 miles. (and the driver heard “Stairway to Heaven” at least 20 times on the radio). What was the reaction? Wellll…

“It was tough getting people into the truck,” remembers Lands’ End web writer Mike Morkri, who spent 4 days in New York on the truck tour in 2001. “A bunch of us were out front, wheedling and cajoling like carnival barkers. People had to come into the truck and change out of their clothes into a pair of tight-fitting spandexy shorts and matching sports bra.”

The process took at least 15 minutes, longer than most women wanted to spend. But despite less-than-enthusiastic participation, the tour did stir up even more interest in My Personal Model, later called My Virtual Model.

You won’t find My Virtual Model at landsend.com anymore. (We like to think she’s taking a virtual stroll on some deserted South American beach.) But we still offer one of the most innovative, easy-to-shop retail sites around, including Apostrophe, a new Lands’ End digital quarterly that launched in August.

And if you want to try on our clothes, you can do so today at more than 200 Lands’ End Shops at Sears nationwide. Personally, we’ll take actual reality over virtual reality anytime.

Have a story or photos you’d like to share?
Email it to us at MyStory@landsend.com
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