October 4, 2011
Online shopping has come a long way since customers were afraid to reveal credit card information, but some areas could still use an upgrade. One of those is clothing: How often have you been greeted at your doorstep with clothes that don’t fit?
“I realized that one can buy books, computers, etc. online, but buying clothes is a hassle,” says Ravi Chityala, cofounder of Minneapolis startup Fitparel. This is because sizes aren’t standard across brands, some of which embrace “vanity sizing” that reduces your actual clothing size.
On Fitparel’s free site, launching in beta in mid-October, you input details on a brand-name item that fits you, then Fitparel recommends apparel from other brands. They also tell you how well the recommended size should fit and how much the clothing costs. At launch, Fitparel will support about 200 brands, from Adidas and Reebok to Calvin Klein and JCrew.
When asked, Fitparel did not reveal exactly where their sizing information comes from, but they have developed a patent-pending algorithm to match sizes across brands. Their approach is certainly easier for shoppers than Zoora’s, which requires taking a few personal measurements, but it may end up being less accurate.
Assuming they make the right suggestions, Fitparel’s success will hinge on attracting enough frustrated online shoppers in order to sell advertising or extract money out of brands. One promising approach would be to convince online stores like JCrew.com to link to Fitparel when customers have to select a size.
To hear more about Fitparel’s plans, be sure to stop by our Tech Cocktail Minneapolis mixer event tonight, where Fitparel is one of our showcased startups.
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