The phrase "fit technology" may initially make your mind leap to step-counting bands and exercise tracking apps, but there's a whole other breed of fit tech startups out there that you should get on your radar, ASAP: The ones that are using technology to make your clothing fit better. It's a wide playing field, from programs that operate within online stores to improve their sizing recommendations to 3D body scanners that make custom tailoring that much more precise. And the payoffs of nailing fit are huge, for both shoppers who have to deal with returns on an ill-fitting online buy and for the e-commerce sites that have to pay for those returns.
Here, we've rounded up the eight startups that have caught our eye as they make moves on the clothing fit space.
Founded: 2011.Funding: $1.1 million raised from angel investors. Currently raising its next round to improve its technology and scale operations in the form of pop-ups and shop-in-shops.The lowdown: Bespoke men's clothing, ranging from polos and jeans to suits and overcoats at a price point similar to Hugo Boss. Visitors to Acustom's flagship in SoHo can get their bodies 3D scanned, the measurements from which are then used to make clothing exactly to size. The store carries sample clothing and fabric swatches so shoppers can pick out the materials and cut that they want for their clothing and order for delivery later.
Funding: $1 million raised from Lifeline Ventures, Harwick Overseas and Reaktor Polte.
The lowdown: Finland has a thriving game design scene, so it's no surprise that this Helsinki-based fit tech startup would make virtual try-ons its core concept. Stylewhile launched its fitting room iPad app last year, which allows users to create an avatar with their body type to try on different clothing items from Saks Fifth Avenue and other retailers. While this approach to fit is much more of an inexact science than those using hard measurements, it's pretty damn fun to play around on. (Like we said... gaming culture.)
Funding: $9 million from SmartCap AS, Fostergate Holdings, Conor Venture Partners, Entrepreneurs Fund, Estonian Development Fund.
The lowdown: Like Stylewhile, Fits.me has developed a virtual fitting room product, which can be deployed as a tool on retailers' websites. Shoppers input their exact measurements, which are used to create an avatar that can try on different sizes. Fits.me has also developed a "Fit Advisor" tool that draws on a user's measurements and fit preferences (hey, not everyone likes their jeans super tight) to recommend the right size.
Clients: QVC, Thomas Pink, Hugo Boss.
Funding: Raised an undisclosed amount from High Peaks Venture Partners, Contour Ventures, 500 Startups, NYC Seed, Dallimore & Co.
The lowdown: Clothes Horse helps shoppers figure out what size to buy on a retailer's website. The tool asks customers questions about their body type, favorite brands and how those brands fit, which they combine with data on the discrepancies between sizing across brands, in order to generate sizing recommendations for a given product.
Clients: Frank & Oak, Nicole Miller.
Funding: $5.6 million from New Enterprise Associates, Andreesen Horowitz, Yuri Milner, Keith Rabois, Zachary Bogue and Benjamin Ling.
The lowdown: One of the many startups out there trying to make bra shopping somewhat less of a nightmare, ThirdLove's app has its users take two photos of their breasts in a tank top — one from the front, one from the side — which it then uses to figure out what style of bra will fit best.
Funding: $2.4 million from Creandum, Jesper Burch, Steadfast Venture Capital.
The lowdown: This Danish startup is applying crowdsourcing to the problem of fit, allowing users to find and follow their "body doubles" within its community to see what clothes work well on people with similar proportions to them. The onboarding process involves a body quiz asking about height, weight and shape — no measuring tapes necessary — and users are also asked about the brands they know fit them well. All of this information generates a personalized feed for product recommendations, and users are encouraged to post selfies in their favorite clothes to spread the info-love back to their body doubles.
Funding: $54.4 million from Novel TMT Ventures, American Express, Bain Capital Ventures, Highland Capital Parnters, Kleiner Perkins, Condé Nast.
The lowdown: Like Fitbay, Rent the Runway's sizing technology is all about community. Users can add to their profiles information about their body type, so that when they're looking at a particular dress, the site is able to push to the top reviews from women with similar shapes.
Funding: Raised an undisclosed Series A round from D-Ax in April.
The lowdown: Like ClothesHorse, Sweden-based Virtusize works directly with online retailers, appearing as a button on individual product pages. The tool allows shoppers to compare the dimensions of the item they're looking at to a similar item they already own by overlaying renderings of the two on top of each other. Customers can either pick an item they already own from the store or input the measurements of something from their closet (a bit more work).
Clients: Asos, Acne Studios, Esprit, Monsoon.