Total Size Chart

We discovered Total Size Chart today.  http://www.totalsizechart.com/  It’s a very interesting site to us, because it promises to be very similar to what we’re developing for WhatFitsMe.  They ask you a few questions, and then they tell you what size you are in hundreds of brands.  It seems that they have a few bugs to work out still, because I entered my info correctly, yet the site didn’t recommend a single item that fits me.

What We’re Up To

We are doing a major redesign of the entire WhatFitsMe site.  We’ve decided to run the entire site off of a WordPress platform and use the WooCommerce plugin to display and organize the products we present.  Running off a blog platform will do two things for us:

  1. It’ll allow us to give the site a modern look and feel that we can quickly and easily refresh from time to time.
  2. It makes sense given our 5 year plan.

Electronic eye for the straight guy

…and gay guys too, I suppose.  StyleSeek is a Chicago startup that proposes to discover men’s taste in fashion through a magical brew of men’s magazine articles, online clothing retailers, and clicking on seemingly unrelated images do discover one’s inner James Bond  or Ralph Lauren.  This is not a direct competitor with WhatFitsMe because it does not try find clothes to fit your body (just your sense of style), but the behind the scenes algorithms are likely similar.

You start out playing the “StyleGame”, which is easy because there’s no wrong answer.  Click on the image that most defines you as a person, or maybe it’s the image related to the person you’d like to be.  There are no directions.  Here’s the first one:

When I was finished, I had chosen the best (or the least bad) music, magazine, adult beverage, watch, movie, car, house, vocation, and avocation among the nine displayed.  Did I mention there are no wrong answers?

Out popped this window full of products that supposedly fit my disposition, plus some other items.  The other items will be confusing at first.  It takes some probing to realize they are mostly links to articles on men’s style.

For instance, the first link returned to me was to a GQ article on a trendy short cut pair of swim trunks like Sean Connery wore in Thunderball.  Well, well, well, looks like my mid-thigh polyester all black swimsuit is coming back in vogue.  Just shows that you can wait long enough and all of your clothes will be in style again.  No new purchases here.

But some guys prefer to read Car & Driver instead of GQ and want the sexual and/or societal rewards that come from being a snappy dresser without the tips on selecting the right humidor.  For them, clicking “buy” removes the extraneous content and leaves only men’s clothes and accessories.  I apparently would look good in almost any solid color slim fit dress shirt.

I was left confused not by anything StyleSeek does wrong, but by the premise.  I didn’t see anything listed I already owned, and I also didn’t see anything that I particularly coveted.  It is extremely easy to use, and thus lives up to its tagline as the “Pandora for Men’s Fashion”.  But is the point for the average Joe to upgrade his style by using StyleSeek’s recommendations, or is the point to keep Average Joe in his place, be it trendy or outmoded?

Maybe those Bond-worthy mid-thigh swim trunks are just window dressing when my wardrobe needs a complete overhaul.

 

The “Pandora” of clothes

WhatFitsMe will soon be the “Pandora” of clothes.  By this, we of course mean that our users tell us what fits their bodies and tastes, and then we recommend clothes based on their fit and style preferences.

Other “Pandoras” of clothes:

  • LookCraft – Pandora meets Trunk Club.  Interestingly they are following the business model that killed MyShape, where they are launching both an online department store and a fitting service.  MyShape’s expertise was in online fitting, but they got into warehousing and shipping products too, which seemed to be their doom.
  • StyleSeek – a “Pandora” of clothes that has been in stealth mode for quite some time.  We’re not sure if StyleSeek will incorporate fit as well as style into their recommendation engine.  Update 7/15/2012: StyleSeek is conscious of your preferred cut (ie slim, regular, wide) but not sizing. Read Mike’s review of Styleseek for more info.

Mipso FiT

Mipso, the company that acquired the intellectual property of the ill-fated MyShape, may be getting into the consumer market after all.  Six months ago, it mothballed www.myshape.com and launched a white labeling online apparel fitting service.  Since then, we’ve witnessed white labeled or embedded virtual fitting services get red hot and then fizzle.  The reason for this, I believe, is that even our most mature competitors are not ready for prime time quite yet, and their services were viewed as a novelty by mainstream consumers because their accuracy was not yet good enough.  Now the tide seems to be shifting back to sites that serve consumers directly.  Mipso has now put up an exploratory landing page on myshape.com to collect pre-launch signups for their new service FiT, which they describe as “a new shopping concept.”

HerRoom and their wonderful universal cup sizing

HerRoom, an online bra shop, has an incredibly simple yet effective system for getting women into the right bra without them having to physically try on the bra. It is called universal cup sizing, and it works like so:

  • The customer enters the size and the brand of their favorite-fitting bra.
  • HerRoom tells the customer what “universal size” her favorite bra is.  This could be different from the size it is labeled, as nonstandard/vanity sizing affects bras just as it affects all other clothing.
  • Then she may elect to narrow her search to only bras of her universal size.

I ordered several bras from HerRoom based on their recommendations, and they all fit great!  This is very exciting to me, because the system HerRoom uses is very similar to WhatFitsMe, and it is great to see it working so well, at least for me. We hope to do for other apparel what HerRoom does with online bra fitting.

Learn more about universal sizing at HerRoom here: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/retail/story/2012-04-06/universal-bra-size/54128520/1

Our first mention in the press–and it’s more than just a mention!

The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch devoted an entire 1/3 of an article to WhatFitsMe!  Check it out:  http://www.stltoday.com/business/columns/consumer-central/new-services-aim-to-find-the-perfect-fit

So, how did we land this sweet deal?  It turns out that the one TechLi article about sizing tech that I was invited to write continues to pay out dividends.  It is ranked very highly on google and is one if not the most comprehensive surveys of virtual fitting services.  Kavita Kumar–the journalist writing the article–read it in the course of her research for a story on Me-Ality, a scanner-based clothes sizing service, which had just arrived in the Saint Louis area.  She also found this blog, which happens to be a pretty fertile ground for doing research on sizing technology, and it convinced her that I am an expert on apparel sizing technology (which of course I am).  Kavita also liked that WhatFitsMe is located in Champaign Illinois, which is within Saint Louis’ sphere of influence, so we’re practically a local startup.

Kavita called me on Friday to interview me.  I had just watched a video of Barbara Corcoran talking about how she built up a very favorable report with the New York Times by feeding them facts/statistics that they could quote. Thus, I came prepared with all the relevant statistics I could muster with the hope that if I threw enough facts at her, she would quote the founder of WhatFitsMe on something. I also carefully worded a number of things that I said so that they would be nice and quotable.  This made for a terrible conversation because I paused awkwardly several times, but it made for good reading.  She quoted me quite a lot!

Who is using WhatFitsMe?

So, who exactly is using WhatFitsMe?

Gender

Most of our users are ladies.  This is probably because we currently only serve women’s clothing brands and we target 100% of our marketing towards females.  However, a healthy number of men have discovered the site and signed up. We’ll be including men in our service in the fall, and I’m happy to see that there is a demand.

Ethnicity

The demographics of our users pretty much follow the demographics of the United States as a whole.  Thus, we conclude that we are equally attractive to people of all stripes.

 

 

Age

WhatFitsMe seems to appeal about equally to people 20 through 60 years of age. In the beginning, we focused our marketing on women in their twenties, which is probably why the plurality of our users are in their twenties.  But we quickly discovered that our message resonates just as much with older ladies, and we stopped targeting our ads by age.

Conclusion

WhatFitsMe appeals to a broad range of women.

The St Louis Startup Safari

Team WhatFitsMe took a trip to St Louis on Tuesday to take in the ferociously emerging tech entrepreneurship scene down there.  The excursion was conceived of and organized by Edward Domain of TechLi.  Techli is a new media publication that follows startups and the tech scene with a special focus on the Midwest, and it is headquartered in St Louis.  We toured their nascent incubator TREX.  Then everyone got to give their company’s pitch.  Then we hopped on Rick Holton’s groovy party bus and visited several of the hottest startups in St Louis, including LockerDome and Bonfyre.

On the tour bus

As usual, I learned some good things from rubbing elbows with other smart business people.  For one, mentioning something exciting about the market potential of WhatFitsMe in our pitch is not an option; it’s a necessity.  Also, VigLink and SkimLinks are very new companies, so most people aren’t aware of how incredibly easy it is to affiliate the links on one’s site.

One truly awesome thing happened to me: someone asked me who designed my logo!  That was a refreshing change from the logo comments I was getting before.

Thank you to all the sponsors of the trip, which included but may not be limited to: Illinois Launch, TREX, Cultivation Capital, and TechLi.

Branding WhatFitsMe

For the past 6 months, we’ve been experimenting with the branding of our company.  Branding means selecting a palette of colors, a font or two, and one or two images to associate with your brand.  Then, once you have this branding in place, you include these visual cues on everything from your website to your business cards.  The goal is to get people to recognize your brand at a glance, and to make your handouts more professional and coherent.

We’ve finally landed on a branding image that I think will take us through the next several years.  Our colors are bluish purple and a rich yellow.  Per the recommendation of my fabulous copy editor sister-in-law Mary, our fancy font is Nueva Std Bold Condensed. Our everyday font is Calibri.  Our brand image is:

Also, we will continue to use measuring tape in our rich gold color as secondary imagery.