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How Online Styling Services Help Consumers Find the Perfect Jean

A personal stylist is no longer a perk saved for the wealthy or famous. Online styling services like Stitch Fix and Trunk Club are delivering personalized shopping experiences from the comfort and convenience of home—and the trend appears to be a boon for denim brands.

Both Trunk Club and Stitch Fix feature a variety of jeans among their core denim brands for men and women. Trunk Club’s men’s offerings include AG Jeans, DL 1961, Fidelity Denim, Paige and others, while its women’s labels range from Madewell to Rag & Bone and Frame. Blank NYC, Kut from the Kloth, J Brand, Mavi and Mother are among the denim brands stocked by Stitch Fix.

By shopping with the help of a stylist who is familiar with brands’ sizing and fits, shoppers can (hopefully) pinpoint a more perfect fitting jean much faster.

Vigoss men’s sales manager Nikhil Bott said the brand has experienced success with retailers providing a stylist service. The services are not only a convenience for time-strapped consumers, but, he said, they elevate the shopping experience.

“The Trunk Club consumers we see most are working people who don’t have time to shop,” Bott said. “The other half is an older customer who really doesn’t like to shop.” The beauty of concepts like Trunk Club is how the stylist makes “shoppers feel special,” he added.

For Vigoss, Bott believes the brand has performed well for Trunk Club because it is a “price value” brand, retailing for under $100. Vigoss offers a balance between high-end fashion, price value and unique styling.

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Online styling services tap into millennials’ desire for tailor-made shopping experiences. In the first quarter of 2018, 18.5 million American consumers visited a retail box service site. And the concept lends itself particularly well to apparel, as consumers increasingly spend their dollars online.

Each stylist service differs slightly, but the process generally goes like this: After paying a stylist fee, such as $20 for Stitch Fix or $25 for Trunk Club, consumers fill out an online style profile narrowing down their preferences for color, silhouettes, prints, budget and more. Consumers receive a box of items handpicked for them by a stylist. Consumers try on at home, pick the items they wish to keep and return the unwanted items in a prepaid envelope.

Or, in the case of Trunk Club, consumers have the option of visiting one of six “clubhouses” to come in for a fitting. There, consumers enjoy the assistance of a stylist—plus perks like a cocktail—and can take items home the same day.

While the concepts are still relatively new—Stitch Fix launched in 2011—companies are seeing steady growth. Stitch Fix ended its fourth quarter with $1.2 billion in revenue and 2.7 million active clients in the U.S., a 25 percent increase year-over-year. In 2019, the company will launch in the U.K.

“We believe our ability to create a uniquely personalized shopping experience is something that will resonate with consumers and brands outside of the U.S.,” Stitch Fix founder and CEO Katrina Lake, said in a statement. “We can’t wait to show our first U.K. clients how effortless, convenient and fun Stitch Fix is.”

Alternatively, companies without a styling service are revamping their return policies and offering consumers opportunities to try on clothing at home before buying with no additional cost.

Amazon recently introduced Prime Wardrobe, which allows Prime members to select three or more items (without a stylist’s help) to try on at home. Consumers have seven days to determine whether to keep the items or return to Amazon. According to Amazon Fashion, denim for men and women is already a top category.

Women’s denim label Kut from the Kloth launched its own try-before-you-buy program, dubbed TRY5, to give customers greater choice and the convenience of test driving new jeans.

“We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to try it first before committing, and in the comfort of their own home,” said Jonathan Greenberg, president of Kut from the Kloth. “Because they are able to try five pieces at a time and because they can select various sizes and/or different fits, they are able to find the right fit for their body.”

Like most try-before-you-buy efforts, Kut’s program is available free of charge to customers, who select any five pairs of denim from the Kut website. Their credit card on file is billed only for the pairs they decide to keep after a seven-day trial period.

Greenberg described TRY5 as “simply an added value for our customers to make our product as accessible as possible.”