Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Mar Mercadé Meana, chief product officer at sizing technology firm Fit Analytics, discusses the potential for data-led production and her company’s recent acquisition by Snap.
Name: Mar Mercadé Meana
Title: Chief product officer
Company: Fit Analytics GmbH
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
One industry with interesting supply chain strategies is furniture. Businesses are leveraging longer delivery times, which includes item production. It’s an interesting move away from the fast and immediate fulfillment most industries are compelled to offer. Sometimes the shopper does have to wait a long time for delivery, but I think that also inspires people to make more conscious choices. It’s a huge departure from the “out of the box” home megastores where all items are already produced, waiting to be purchased, and are often discarded after a short time.
Many companies in the furniture industry choose to produce a minimal number of pieces, or even wait to start production until orders are confirmed. This is a hugely different, and ultimately more sustainable, approach to supply chain, from mass production in fast fashion and even the self-assemble homewares markets. I’m not sure the apparel industry is ready to slow down to made-to-order, but clothing manufacturers could tighten up the supply chain and reduce waste by leveraging shopper data to produce and stock the most relevant items and sizes in a particular region.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
I am a person approaching 40 who has grown in her career. I am in a lucky position where I can choose products that match what I want for the world. I consume a lot less than when I was younger, and now take great care in selecting goods to ensure my money goes to companies where sustainability, human impact and quality are top priority. I’m not prescriptive in my choices, though, and recognize how privileged I am to be able to be so discerning about my shopping choices. I have been a penniless student, new to a country, not stable, and remember the absolute blessing of being able to go to a shop and get a smart looking blouse at a price point I could afford.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
Transparency about the origin of the products and what was involved in bringing me the offering. That is very important to me, and it will go a long way to ensuring my loyalty. I appreciate companies that invest in extra services and technologies that help users make the most informed shopping choices possible. I actively used Fit Analytics’ solutions long before I joined the company, so I already had a real appreciation for size advisors and other fit technologies. I look for companies who make conscious investments to actively decrease their harm to the planet and increase their value to society. That is something worth my loyalty.
What’s your typical work (or weekend) uniform?
I normally wear some type of structured blouse or top with wide trousers or a nice pair of high-waisted jeans. I appreciate comfort with a twist, and regardless of purpose, garment architecture is a must.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
The 1950s—hands down. The shapes were amazing. Givenchy was doing a lot with the hourglass shape, with highly structured garments that still allowed for a lot of contouring. The styles looked good on almost everyone and flattered more voluptuous feminine figures. The era added architecture, curves and lines to every body type.
I also have a soft spot for the ‘80s. I was born when “When Doves Cry” was a hit song, and that whole ‘80s vibe carries a comfort and nostalgia that is welcome at any time.
Who’s your style icon?
Grace Jones—she is an extremely talented fashion icon who was groundbreaking and innovative in a deeply personal way. She was always playing with architecture, shapes and fashion as art, combined with her music and one woman shows—very inspiring.
What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?
Joining Snap. Fit Analytics turned down many offers over the years, so when Snap came along with their innovative idea and holistic ethos, we knew we had finally found the right fit for our future. Fit Analytics has always been connected with something meaningful to the world and valuable to the bottom line of companies that want to stay profitable. Snap having chosen us with all their innovative power is enabling a new, powerful branch of retail technology to open up at a very complicated moment in the evolution of e-commerce.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
Evolving. Anyone who has worked with startups knows the 10-year mark is a time of pivoting. We are in a phase of cultural transformation, both internally and in the world. Our corporate culture embraces that.
Amid these changes, Fit Analytics has kept its culture people-focused, with passion, kindness and creativity at the heart of decision making. We’ve brought on people who care about preserving the human side of the company while allowing us to overcome the challenges of scalability. We’re dedicated to growing up while maintaining the magic of the startup soul.
What can companies learn from Covid-19?
Leverage technology. Tighten up the supply chain. Stop thinking of people as consumers. And, most importantly, make sure you have enough people on your teams who have been trained to handle change. Make flexibility and adaptability a top priority and invest into the growth and career evolution of your employees. Nurturing employees’ skills as change-drivers benefits the whole organization and ensures talent will stay with you long-term.
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
Definitely cleaning up the supply chain. Our world doesn’t have infinite resources, and we can’t continue burdening the environment with our waste—something the apparel industry is notorious for. Invest in technologies and innovative solutions to make the supply chain as sensible and sustainable and possible.
What keeps you up at night?
The climate crisis. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to balance the needs of industry with the needs of humanity. I’m in a unique position to prioritize being an effective and human manager for my team while helping shape our product offering to align with our values of helping the world with technology.
What makes you most optimistic?
The silver lining is that there are people, organizations and communities who are already doing the work needed to make the world a better place. Many companies are already revolutionizing the supply chain. They remain approachable and affordable to shoppers while having a positive net impact on the environment. Thankfully, investing in sustainable solutions is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Companies continue to find new ways to handle the byproducts of the industry.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction:
Our Snap acquisition has naturally opened up space for incredible innovations, which are still on the horizon, but fast approaching! More on that as it comes. But most recently, we’ve made it possible for shoppers to use Fit Finder from the catalogue page, not just from the product detail page. This means that shoppers can leverage the size advisor at the very beginning of their shopping journey to help them browse the most relevant products from the get go. We’ve also launched Bra Finder, which broadens our sizing solution offering to include undergarments.