Made-to-measure garments made with sustainable fabrics, ready in a matter of days? It’s possible! Fashion brand Atalyé creates ethical fashion through technology and shows there’s no need to fit a standard size. We spoke to Atalyé’s founder & CEO Tal Atzmon Shaked about how she started Atalyé, why she’s creating ‘Your o(w)n demand t-shirts’ with the Menagerie of Extinct Animals, and what a Life Extraordinary means to her.
Hi Tal! Can you introduce yourself and Atalyé to our readers?
Hi, my name is Tal, and I am the founder of Atalyé, a fashion brand that focuses on made-to-measure clothing. We use technology as a tool to engineer garments that are tailored to a specific person. Anyone can choose the cut that fits their body perfectly. We offer a variety of garments, such as dresses, top, and skirts, as well as choices of colours and fabrics. By using 3D body scan data, we generate sewing patterns ready for manufacturing within minutes. We manufacture locally, so it takes only a few days before a customised garment is ready to be sent to its owner.
What inspired you to create made-to-measure clothing using technology?
I founded Atalyé in 2021, but the idea came a long time before that. It came after reading about the Dhaka garment disaster that happened in 2013. A clothing factory in Bangladesh collapsed, causing the deaths of over a thousand people and left even more people injured. The factory produced clothing for the Western world and laid bare the horrible conditions the people were working in. Before the disaster, I did not know that this was the price that we were paying to buy our clothing in most cases. A few weeks after reading about the Dhaka garment factory collapse, I read another article about an app that could scan your body. It reminded me of the stories of my parents growing up in Tel Aviv in the fifties and sixties. They would visit a tailor twice a year to have their garments made. It made me think that technology could recreate this experience of going to a tailor and create clothing that really fits you.
And that is how you started Atalyé?
Yes, that was the idea I started with. But, because my background is in Industrial design and not in fashion and or tech, it stayed just an idea for a while. But then I moved to Amsterdam and found a master’s program — fashion entrepreneurship with focus on sustainability — and it felt as if the stars were aligned! I enrolled in the master’s program to make my idea happen. I graduated in 2019 with my business concept for Atalyé and won the years’ prize for my concept.
I decided to make Atalyé become real. With help and advice from friends, I developed software that automatically changes sewing patterns to fit someone’s size. The development of the software is an ongoing process, to perfect different patterns to different body shapes. We use a 3D body scanner to create a measurement file. We then upload the measurement file to our software to download a different file that is ready for production and is sent to the cutting machine. The cutting machine cuts the fabric as optimally as possible and then we only need to sew it.
How have people responded to your work?
Everyone we’ve encountered and had clothing made by us is incredibly excited. The option to have something made for you, is a cool new experience. People are excited to see the fabrics, choosing the designs, customising their designs, like choosing a sleeve style for a top or the length of a skirt or dress. Customisation is something that we’re focused on. Perhaps you recognise seeing something in a clothing store and wishing it had pockets. Or you preferred it had different sleeves. Small differences that would have made an item better suited, perfect even. By customising your design, we wish to give all that. Research shows that people are more attached to custom-made products and keep them longer.
What do you want to achieve or say with your work?
There are many things. Atalyé does not need or use sizes, just your body. So, we want to empower women to love themselves the way they are and showing we don’t need to fit a standard size. Because we’re all different. That’s also why we have very diverse women modelling our clothing. Because we believe it’s important to see somebody that looks like you and that you can connect to.
Another thing I’d like to achieve or say is to bring production back home. Not only in fashion, but in all industries. Like our food. I think we should know where it was made, how it was made, and who made it. I think it’s important to realise what exactly we are consuming. To better check labels and make small but conscious choices of what we buy and where it comes from.
So, more transparency?
Yes, we are transparent in how we produce and in what fabrics we use. Right now, we are producing all the garments in the Netherlands and are mainly focused on Tencel, a more sustainable fabric. We try to only use fabrics that are recyclable. And limited editions. Printing small amounts and then when it’s done, it’s done. We buy small quantities of dead stock fabrics to create those limited editions. We use organic cotton for the t-shirts. But we really were looking into where the fabrics are produced. And the materials are most likely 100% of the same material, so it’s easier to recycle later.
At Dutch Design Week, you are present and will create t-shirts on demand with the Menagerie of Extinct Animals motif. Why did you choose the motif for your work?
A core vision of Atalyé is that we want to collaborate with artists, brands, and designers to create patterns or unique pieces. We hope to reach a wider audience this way. Our collection comprises classic designs, but occasionally we like to add unique limited editions by collaborating with others.
I always thought it would be cool to collaborate with Moooi because the designs and prints are so unique, and Moooi doesn’t do concessions. So, that uniqueness drew me. During Dutch Design Week, we will offer visitors a made-to-measure T-shirt with the ‘Menagerie of Extinct Animals’ print in raven or ivory. And we’ll have daily demonstrations at 13:00 to 15:00 where visitors can see the process of the full production live: from scanning to a made-to-measure T-shirt.
What are you focusing on now, besides Dutch Design Week?
Our design method for now is creating the basics and then working from those basic designs. Now, we offer a customisable basic dress, top, skirt, and unisex t-shirt. Our next step is working on denim pants. So, we’re really trying to work on true basics and then from that you can go crazy. Like collaborating with other artists or designers to recreate and customise those pieces. Or add other style elements, like a puff sleeve, because it’s quite easy to add like those small design elements once we have the patterns in.
In all that Moooi does, creates and envisions we contribute to ‘a life extraordinary’. What does a life extraordinary mean to you?
That’s a tough one, but I think it would be how I grew up. How almost everything was a reason for a party. Life is short, so better find reasons to celebrate. During Covid, this was especially true. It sometimes feels as those two years are without memories, because there were no moments, no anchors in time. We couldn’t celebrate anything. Anchors are birthdays, and holidays, and such. These are the moments that we remember at the end. So, to celebrate more, I think that is to live A Life Extraordinary.
Tal Atzmon Shaked – Founder & CEO of Atalyé