With international childrenswear shows like Playtime Paris and Playtime Tokyo cementing themselves stateside, and more boutique owners differentiating their product mix from discounters with tightly distributed European labels, U.S. shoppers are facing a broader and less familiar set of foreign children’s sizes.
Enter AlvaKids, a new online and app feature by fit experts Alvanon, designed to make it easier and more accurate for parents to shop for the right children’s clothing—and for retailers to sell their merchandise.
Alvanon vice president of research and development Jonathan Wang, said, “What we see is that there are so many brands out there and ones from France label differently from England. Japan labels sizes 1 to 5, while others use centimeters.” He added, “Shopping becomes very complicated. It is very confusing to understand those numbers and we aim to help minimize that confusion.”
AlvaKids culls size information and other points of distinction from brands worldwide. Retailers can then implement AlvaKids’ database (currently at 700 brands spanning Genuine School Uniform to Young Versace) into its e-commerce site and direct shoppers with an AlvaKids profile to the correct size.
Wang added, “The deeper we integrate with the site, the better results we see. We hope to understand how parents shop, how they determine purchases and how and why they return products.”
For consumers, the process is simple. Parents can download AlvaKids onto a computer, tablet or smartphone and create a size profile for their child based on gender, age, height, weight, ethnicity and body shape, which is then saved and can be shared to gift-giving friends and family. When shopping on participating e-commerce sites, parents can click an AlvaKids icon to for size recommendations, and the technology can suggest sizes for future seasons.
Currently the virtual fitting technology, which has been in beta for about one year, has approximately 5,000 users and counts multi-brand retailers likes New York-based Cookie’s Children’s Department Store and Cotton Candy as partners. Fees for retailers to sign on to the program start at $500.
A similar product for menswear is in the pipeline and one for womenswear is already in the alpha stage of testing internally. Wang said it is expected to roll out within the next 18 months.
Up next, Wang said the company aims to add more independent retailers to the AlvaKids database. He shared, “A lot of people don’t know that AlvaKids exists, but everyone we talk to agrees that sizes on websites are difficult to understand. As more retailers sign on, the easier it will become for consumers to shop online.”