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LA-based startup Carapace uses algorithms to make custom-fit wetsuits that won’t break the bank

Wetsuits are a necessity for all-season water sports athletes, but they’re also famously uncomfortable. They never fit just right in the legs or in the crotch, and more often than not, they’re simply too tight. But that might not be the case for much longer if Carapace Wetsuits has its way. The burgeoning California-based company takes a very different approach to designing and crafting wetsuits for athletes of all shapes and sizes. Carapace takes custom measurements from every customer, and handcrafts each wetsuit to order so it fits perfectly.

Carapace Wetsuits is based in Los Angeles, but the company’s design ideas all come from a basic understanding of affordability. Wetsuits can be a big investment, so mass produced items that don’t fit well can feel like a waste – and an uncomfortable one at that. Professional athletes pay big bucks for custom-designed wetsuits, but not every amateur or aspiring athlete has that luxury. Carapace wetsuits range from $265 to almost $600, and each one is custom fitted, made to order, and hand-sewn by a tailor.

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The process takes about three weeks from start to finish. With an online account, users are walked through a fitting process that prompts them to provide a total of twelve body measurements. Carapace then uses algorithmic CAD software to turn every set of measurements into a custom wetsuit pattern. In the weeks that follow, the pattern is printed, cut, and sewn together by hand by a professional tailor. The company’s proprietary software is the key to keeping prices low, since the skilled labor traditionally required to create custom patterns by hand is all taken care of by Carapace’s sizing algorithm.

Carapace started with humble beginnings as a Kickstarter project in 2013, but they have been completely self-funded since then. They’ve sold over 600 custom wetsuits since their official launch, and Carapace has announced plans to expand to custom women’s suits next. In the future, Carapace may even be able to adapt their algorithmic CAD technology to create custom fitted rescue gear for military personnel and government officials.