- RedThread, a startup specializing in custom clothing for women, is staking its claim in the nascent market for retailers forsaking sizes and using technology to provide customers with a more precise fit, according to TechCrunch.
- RedThread uses patent-pending tailoring algorithms, designs and manufacturing process, and 3D mobile body scanning tech to deliver clothes to consumers in about one week. Customers must answer a few questions about fit challenges, scan their measurements and, after checkout, take four photos, guided by prompts on how to stand obtained by following a link.
- Currently, RedThread offers four items: ankle and wide leg pants selling for $148; a T-shirt priced at $78; and a snap jacket selling for $168. An expansion of the line is expected, but any new offerings will fit in the niche of everyday basics for working women. The company is open to eventually partnering with other brands, said TechCrunch.
New technologies and online ordering may be helping retailers to finally realize the ideal of a "perfect fit" for apparel. The concept is hardly new, going back to the early '90s and Levi Strauss's custom-made jeans, and even earlier to the days when there was greater dependence on tailors. Subscription services are another approach to personal styling, although the merchants rely on measurements, sizes and a personal profile.
RedThread is another approach to custom apparel, with a heavy dependence on technology, using 15 measurements input into an algorithm to determine fit. The process still has a human element, founder and CEO Meghan Litchfield told TechCrunch.
Similar to the subscription companies' profiles, "the more the algorithm learns about how to do this, the more the technology can drive the decisions. We envision a world where we're at 95% math, 5% human," she told TechCrunch. Unlike other retailers and subscription services, RedThread has a limited offering of four items of everyday basics for working women, with more products planned.
The momentum for technology-driven customized apparel has been building. After abandoning its first custom-made jeans program in 2004 which did not have an e-commerce component, Levi Strauss now offers it again, along with jeans that are almost custom fit and less expensive through the company's Curve ID. This is part of a trend called "mass customizing." Another company, Hudson Jeans, partnered with fashion data company Fitcode a few years ago to help women find a better fit through a mobile-optimized quiz hosted on its website.
This year, several other companies are making moves with sizing and customization. J. Crew and Universal Standard have collaborated to expand the clothing brand's sizing, which it will offer in sizes 00 to 40 next year. Earlier this month, H&M invested $13 million in Thread, an e-commerce startup specializing in personalized menswear styling and Brooks Brothers has an app development platform that includes a Made to Measure program for custom tailoring and alterations.
In a step toward increasing the accuracy of self-measuring, My Size recently debuted a "smart tape measure" app for iOS called MySizeID. The app allows users to measure themselves by moving their smartphone across their bodies, and then create a MySizeID fit profile. By matching the profile to branded apparel sizes synced to the app, consumers will learn their exact size for various brands. The aim is to allow customers to shop more confidently online or in-store, while reducing the headache of returns.
Perfect fit is also the goal of 3D body scanners like that offered by startup Naked Labs, which Amazon has also invested in through the acquisition of Body Labs last year for its 3D scanning technology.