Tailored retail experiences are one of the most well-known applications of big data. We have premium streaming sites that know what you want to watch next better than you do; book vendors which can accurately map your literary tastes; and now, an e-commerce lingerie startup which knows if you suffer from strap slippages or uncomfortable underwire- and also has the perfect bra to combat these problems.
Even if you’re not in possession of breasts yourself, it’s unlikely you haven’t encountered someone wrestling with an errant strap, or discretely trying to push up or readjust. The problem isn’t badly made bras; the problem is there are so many different types of body shape that rib cage and cup size alone don’t tell the whole story. This is something that True&Co, who have currently identified over 6,000 different body shapes, is very familiar with.
In the beginning, True&Co started out as a bra recommender. First-time users would take a two-minute quiz, telling True&Co if their bras were too tight, or if they had problems with “busting out” (apparently 62% of women do), and True&Co would use these metrics to recommend bras for a customer’s particular body shape. Now, they’re using the 7 million data points they’ve accrued to design bras tailored to their users’ body shapes. As founder Michelle Lam states: “With all this virtual stuff, it’s so easy to create a uniquely personal experience for every person, but creating physical goods that also feel like they’re made for you is what’s incredibly fascinating to me.”
The bras, using a patented fitting system called True Spectrum, are variable far beyond the usual remit of chest width and cup size. They take into accont if a customer’s breasts are full or shallow, high or low, wide-set or close together. These bras have quickly become True&Co’s bestselling products, accounting for a quarter of all sales and boosting revenue 600% in the past few months.
Victoria’s Secret have also established a quiz for their clients, and startup ThirdLove have developed a body scanning app for getting measurements. But in the future, we may see tailored fashion moving beyond the chest region. Many have fallen fowl to buying an item of clothing over the internet and immediately returning it, realising it doesn’t look half as good on their body shape as it does on the model. Tailored clothing recommendations could change this, something that Lam is aware of: “I look at the old retailers out there, and I see an imperfect model,” she says. “I think this is the way women are going to shop for intimate apparel in the future, and not only that, but I really believe this is the way women will shop for all apparel in the future.”
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