It's a problem every woman faces at some point: You fall in love with a piece of clothing only to realize that, ultimately, it doesn't work for your body type. In most cases, this means bidding farewell to said item forever, hoping that a similar one eventually comes along that's more figure-flattering. The other option, if you're super-dedicated, is to have something custom-made — but not only is this time-consuming, it's also expensive. That's where new online label Staud comes in.
The brainchild of Co-Creative Directors Sarah Staudinger (the former fashion director of Reformation and creative consultant) and George Augusto, Staud's mission is to bring made-to-order clothing and accessories to a wider audience, thanks to accessible price points (the current collection tops out at $385), the use of dead-stock fabrics, a direct-to-consumer business model and production in factories near the brand's Los Angeles HQ.
Customers can choose from a selection of standard silhouettes — dresses, jumpsuits, tops, skirts, trousers and more — and then customize certain aspects to suit their tastes and shapes, truly making it their own. For example, if you love showing off your legs, you can choose a mini-length hem instead of a maxi; if your arms aren't your favorite feature, add short or long sleeves to a jumpsuit. Any selection you make will be ready to ship in about two weeks, and despite the personalized elements, the finished pieces are returnable.
Staudinger came up with this business concept when she was a student at the New School in 2007, but the technology required to build a customization platform wasn't quite where it needed to be. Fast-forward to today, and the site is up and running, offering a collection of 13 clothing styles with 66 available variations.
Staud is not the first made-to-order startup in the online fashion space: One notable example is Tinker Tailor, launched by Moda Operandi Co-Founder Aslaug Magnusdottir, which allowed shoppers to customize designer dresses at a luxury price point. It shuttered after a year due to insufficient funding, but Staud's accessible price points open it up to a much wider range of consumers.
Because Staud makes each item to order and the customer is essentially creating her ideal garment through the site, the idea of "shopping smarter" is at the foundation of the brand. "We try to use a lot of dead-stock fabric — we're really cutting waste there which is something that I learned at Reformation," she explains. "The bags and the shoes are made in LA, too. Our type of 'green' is that the customer is connecting with each piece in a deeper way. They're involved in the creative decision and there's an emotional connection. Hopefully they're buying a garment that they want to keep for a long time and they're not throwing it away — that for us is an important part of being green right now."
In terms of design aesthetic, Staudinger gravitates towards silhouettes that are "chic, clean and classic," and draws inspiration from vintage clothing, different artists (Augusto owns an artist management and development agency in LA) and her travels. While timeless basics will make up the bulk of Staud's offering moving forward, adornments like pom-poms and fringe are additions customers can choose if they'd like to make a piece more trendy.
With so many direct-to-consumer fashion brands popping up online at the moment, Staudinger and Augusto hope to set Staud apart through its art direction and imagery: every single customization option is shot individually for the website, the Instagram account is highly curated and there's an editorialized lookbook to help give shoppers a sense of the brand's vision. This "artfully minimalist" sensibility is admittedly time consuming, but crucial. "It was important for us to not feel 'tech-y,' and for you to really see the garment — not having that kind of Photoshop, butchered look," Staudinger said.
Staud quietly launched in October, and the duo hopes to use the data from their sales to see which areas to expand upon in future collections and to find ways to connect with their customers on a personal level. "In the beginning, you want to know, 'Well, what do they want? What do they not want? What can we make that they love the most,'" Augusto said. "The only way to do that is to work directly with [your customer] as opposed to going through a buyer from a store where you're getting their vision of what they want their store to be. So it's about owning your customer right now."