Bra and underwear company ThirdLove has announced the latest version of its Fit Finder online tool, which uses machine learning algorithms to help a customer find a perfect-fitting bra in under three minutes, the company claimed in an emailed statement.
Fit Finder 2.0 combines those machine learning capabilities with qualitative customer feedback, and adds more depth and detail to help women troubleshoot fit issues and gather more fit-related background information to determine the right band, the right cup, and then the best style.
ThirdLove launched Fit Finder in 2016, and more than 3 million women have filled out the questionnaire in the the mobile app that gets them started on determining fit. The tool uses 25 million fit insights received in the last year, plus customer feedback, to inform both the updated Fit Finder and make decisions around product development.
ThirdLove started with a model to have app users take selfies to help them find the right bra, and has evolved toward an even more personalized model with Fit Finder over the last year. The approach has paid off with other innovations, such as ThirdLove's creation of half-cup bra sizes to provide a better fit after it found that 40% of their bras sold in the A-E range are half-cup sizes.
The new troubleshooting capabilities in Fit Finder 2.0 respond directly to common problems customers have had. For example, 64% of women have at least two fit issues with their typical bras, like slipping straps or a band that rides up in back, the company said. That insight led to asking about a woman’s height in the new Fit Finder, which helps ThirdLove recommend the right bra to keep her straps and band in place. Fit Finder also uses knowledge of other bra brands’ sizing to make recommendations to its own customers. For example, the company stated, "if you indicate that you wear a Victoria’s Secret 34D but a Natori 36C, it translates that data into your appropriate ThirdLove size. And if ThirdLove doesn’t carry your size (yet), you’ll now be able to see whether it’s in development and if so, be notified of its release."
Overall, competition in the online apparel sector is increasingly being redefined around the ability to provide a personalized experience and personalized fitting features. ThirdLove is just one company innovating in that area. Gap's augmented reality DressignRoom app and Amazon's Echo Look, announced in April, are other entries in the race to help customers find a personalized fit.
ThirdLove is not the only company trying to innovate around apps to help women with the bra-buying needs. American Eagle's Aerie brand has a bot for bra-browsing, and Lululemon is covering the area of sports bra innovation by incorporating psychological research about how women want to feel in their bras.
ThirdLove is sitting pretty at the center of both of these trends, and you have to wonder how long this start-up will remain independent. In early 2016, the company raised $8 million thanks to rapid growth to help fuel further retail expansion (it counts Bloomingdale's among its retail channels.) However, at a time when True & Co., which has a very similar-sounding approach and "Fit Quiz" it asks users to take, was recently acquired by Calvin Klein owner LVH, ThirdLove seems like it would make a nice buy for another retailer or brand — perhaps even Amazon which has been adding personal stylist capabilities and seems intent to expand in the lingerie segment.