Chico's FAS, which runs women's apparel brands Chico's and White House Black Market and lingerie brand Soma, on Monday joined the brassiere wars with the introduction of a patented measurement bra from fit tech company Like A Glove at the 2019 International CES Conference.
"SOMAINNOFIT" involves a proprietary app that connects via Bluetooth to the SOMAINNOFIT bra. As with Like A Glove's fit leggings, the app-plus-bra tech captures and records key body measurements, then recommends the appropriate selection of Soma bras in the styles and size that would fit best. The bra works only in recommending Soma merchandise, a Chico's spokesperson told Retail Dive.
The app itself is shoppable, so customers can use it to purchase recommended items, or go to Soma's website or stores, according to a company press release. The fit bra, available in stores Jan. 23, costs $59, although the retailer is selling it for $25 for a limited time for its debut Tuesday; that intro price also garners customers $25 off a new bra. Multiple women are able to use the same bra to determine fit, the company said.
There are few items of clothing less forgiving than a bra — yet choosing one also involves possibly the most complex and individual set of factors, including physique, size and preference, which all, in turn, also usually vary depending on any one item's material and style.
That's a lot to squeeze into the concept of "fit." But fit and comfort have emerged as top considerations for women buying bras, although it may simply be that women shopping at merchants for the masses are now demanding the proper fit that has long been available to those shopping at high-end lingerie boutiques and department stores in New York and Paris.
Soma joins several other brands, including market leader Victoria's Secret and pure-play upstarts like ThirdLove and PVH-owned True & Co., in touting technology as the key to assessing which items (entailing both style and size) offer customers the proper fit. But there is a lot of art to fitting bras, and it's unlikely that tech left alone to make recommendations can truly replace a well-trained store associate. Still, getting fit right is important to customers and retailers alike, especially as growing e-commerce sales mean more returns.
The SOMAINNOFIT might be a best-seller if women could use its measurements for any lingerie they may want to buy. If it's really true that its measurements can only be applied to Soma goods, however, it may have limited appeal.
"Bra fit is important, but more important is style and comfort," Jane Hali, CEO of investment research firm Jane Hali & Associates, told Retail Dive in an email. "The SOMA stores look so old, the sales staff is old. The bras are not pretty or youthful. They need a new marketing initiative rather than fit technology. I don't think the consumer is not buying the product because of fit technology. SOMA is just not resonating with any demographic."