Shapely Shadow's innovative soft, flesh-like 'Real Forms' have been developed to help lingerie and swimsuit designers get the best possible fit for their products.

The mannequins are covered with a secret proprietary chemical formula that looks like silicone and reacts just like the fleshy parts of the human body.

They are particularly suited to breast wear such as bras and bikini tops, since the mannequin's breasts have a natural droop that can be moulded into shape by a bra, just like real breasts.

Designers can see the uplift and shaping from using different types of padding and wire shapes, as well as the indentations of underwiring that is too small or elastics and shoulder straps that are too tight.

The form can also be used to show if the elastic in a thong panty is too tight around the hip; or to test the fabric transparency of a swimsuit.

Apparently Shapely Shadow pioneered the commercial utilisation of the 3D laser body scanner in 1997, providing designers and vendors with more reliable, repeatable, symmetrical dress forms.

The company recently won a contract to make 12 Asian shaped precision mannequins for Adidas factories in Shanghai, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Hong Kong. Adidas suppliers will now be able to fit garments for quality on forms that represent the specific shape of the market buying its apparel.
Shapely Shadow has also developed FastFit, a global visualisation software that is being used in Marks & Spencer's London head office.

FastFit allows technicians to view 360º images of garments to analyse fit on the true garment. M&S produces millions of styles in hundreds of factories throughout the world in every season.

With a fitting studio including lights, turntable, backdrop and camera FastFit creates a rotating image in a matter of seconds in two formats: HTML and/or QTVR. The saved images are controlled by the user, allowing them to interact with the spinning garment.

In the next six months FastFit will be available as an Internet solution, allowing online users to track samples from prototype to approval, including feedback comments and corrections on a 360º image.

By Niki Tait.