Rihanna took to Instagram late Tuesday to show off the first photos of her provocative lingerie-centric label’s color-saturated Las Vegas store. But beyond the size-inclusive, body-positive chrome and lavender mannequins sporting bras, panties, robes and more, the brand’s first foray into brick and mortar offers shoppers a new way to find what fits.
The newest entrant at Sin City’s Fashion Show shopping mall gives consumers a tech-first approach to bra-fitting with what Savage X Fenty calls Fit Xperience, coming to all brand stores launching in Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. in the weeks ahead.
“We wanted to be able to connect with our customers in real life and give them something they have never seen before,” the “Umbrella” singer said in a statement. “Creating the space took a lot of imagination, married with things I’ve always wanted to change about my own experiences as a customer, from mannequins to the Fit Xperience, to customer service. We are so happy with the outcome and now I can’t wait for people to see it.”
Longtime fans and newcomers alike flocked to Fenty’s big unveiling. “There were lines out the door straight from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday,” said Haniff Brown, founding CEO of Fit:Match, the clothing fit-tech startup powering the TechStyle Group-owned brand’s in-store offering. Most were interested in participating in the Fit Xperience. “Eighty percent of the users we tested before we launched actually said they would want associates to do the scan for them,” he said. “And that number [hasn’t wavered] over the past few days. Customers are expecting a bra-fitting experience done by someone else. We’re just inserting technology to make it a far better experience.”
Young, modern, digitally savvy consumers are likely to have more confidence in a phone-based body scan than a tape measure when it comes to accurately capturing their measurements. Early observations show that a “significant” percentage of shoppers who make it into a changing room opt to get scanned.
Fenty isn’t just bringing Fit:Match’s tech into its stores—it also made a strategic investment in the company and its patented body shape technology, which the South Florida startup says offers better fit clues than “standard measurements.”
“Shape, which cannot be accurately predicted by surveys and measurements, is the most important determinant of fit, especially for a category as complex as bras,” Brown said in a statement. “We set out to fill a gap in the market by developing a scalable, end-to-end solution that leverages the latest advancements in AR and is completely based on body shape.”
Store staff use lidar-equipped Apple devices—the same ones they use to ring up sales and check inventory—to capture a 10- to 15-second augmented-reality-powered body scan of a consumer wearing a lightly lined bra. “We know based on data that 80 percent of women wear the wrong bra size,” Brown said, noting that the Fit Xperience enhances the loyalty play for Fenty’s current Xtra VIP members.
“Existing members love this experience and oftentimes changed their size after getting a proper recommendation,” he added.
Behind the scenes, Fit:Match’s database gathers size-shape data from brand partners and gauges the body scan against this information stockpile to come up with what it calls a “fit twin” developed from a real person’s profile, and from there spits out the size that will best mold to a shopper’s shape. Consumers get their matches in about 30 to 45 seconds, Brown said.
Fit:Match has invested in data science and engineering talent over the past year, critically landing a Cornell PhD who helped develop the patents key to Fenty’s Fit Xperience, Brown said.
Fenty “came to the party” when Fit:Match started attracting market interest. “From a culture perspective and a deal perspective, it was an attractive combination for us,” he added.
Savage X Fenty co-presidents Christiane Pendarvis and Natalie Guzman said the Fit:Match Fit Xperience helps “eliminate the question of fit” so customers can “shop for and wear our product with absolute confidence.”
“We offer an extensive product assortment that makes identifying the right size even more important for our customers and are thrilled to roll out Fit Xperience in all of our stores,” they said, adding, “The launch of retail is going to allow our customers to shop on their own terms and move seamlessly between a uniquely Savage immersive retail experience and the convenient online interaction they already love. Customer experience and discovery is at the forefront of everything we do and these stores will allow us to build an even greater connection to an already highly engaged community.”
Across the board, fit continues to confound fashion, especially with shoppers going online to find new styles.
Early last year, ThirdLove revamped its online Fit Finder quiz into a new “Fitting Room” experience, which not only incorporates qualitative and quantitative data, but illustrates 3D animations and suggests different style options such as “athletic,” “romantic” or “minimalist.”
But that was just the beginning for the intimates seller and its journey to better understand consumer lifestyle changes. Colleen Conkling, vice president, brand marketing and communications at the San Francisco-based company, told National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show attendees last week that Fitting Room quiz and algorithm uses lifestyle data to fine-tune product recommendations.
“One of the interesting things that we found through our research is that women’s bra size changes multiple times over her lifetime, such as after she has a child, or maybe she’s gaining or losing weight,” Conkling said. “Eighty percent of women that take our quiz actually are not wearing the right bra size, meaning that they are suggested to wear a different bra size than they currently are.”
ThirdLove leveraged the more than 100 million data points collected from shoppers to refine its product offerings, and even launch half cup sizes.
Meanwhile, Hemster CEO Allison Lee brought her own ideas of fit to the startup she founded on the idea that tailoring options should be available at the point of sale. Asking for fit adjustment can be an expensive hassle for consumers, she told NRF attendees, especially the clothing they tried on doesn’t fit.
“Brands actually should pay for you to enjoy the perfect fit as a consumers’ right,” Lee said. “We structure this win-win strategy between Hemster brands and their consumers and make sure that instead of the shopper returning something, we ask them if they would like to get something tailored for free. That’s what how we can lower the returns very effectively for the brands.”
The platform works for both online and offline shoppers. Consumers who try on ill-fitting clothes in a fitting room can have a store associate use Hemster to have the item tailored and shipped to their address of choice.
Hemster ships garments to its Brooklyn warehouse, where the 10 minutes needed for tailoring clocks in at 20 minute less than the average, Lee said.
Hohenstein x Presize
Experiments in the fit technology realm have even reached the textile certification sphere, with fit and pattern testing and engineering firm Hohenstein partnering up with AI-powered body measurement solution Presize.
Hohenstein has been making inroads in this direction throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, launching a Digital Fitting Lab in 2020 based on its decades of work with traditional fit development and body measurements.
Now, the companies are collaborating to offer a variety of business services, including reliable size tables and digital scaling, to help online retailers automatically recommend appropriate garment sizes.
The idea is that merging traditional size tables, reliable garment fits and digital body measurements with smartphone technology would ideally reduce the number of returned online purchases. What’s more, matching shoppers with better-fitting clothing could ultimately reduce waste, lower carbon footprints and elevate customer loyalty.
“The better a brand understands sizes, fits and target groups, the more accurately they can automate size recommendations. We help brands meet the different requirements of various sizes, so the fit is comfortable across customer ranges, collections and suppliers,” Simone Morlock, head of Hohenstein’s Digital Fitting Lab, said in a statement.
Together, Hohenstein will underpin its size and grading guidance with digital measurement services and technology based on artificial intelligence.
“All it takes to work out the right size, based on a user’s individual body measurements, are some quick questions regarding their age, height and weight, plus an optional video to take measurements,” Presize co-founding CEO Leon Szeli said in a statement. “We use an algorithm that learns as it goes along, and this improves the advice given on sizes with each order or return.”
At NRF, Michael Agustin, co-founding CEO of Curie Vision, further emphasized the role of technology in improving the accuracy of products displayed online. Curie Vision is designed to automates the conversion of photos to 3D models for e-commerce and augmented reality-related purposes.
Agustin said that Curie’s models, accurate to less than a millimeter of the original product’s scale, have driven 94 percent higher conversion rates for companies using AR to promote their goods.
While AR technologies have been positioned as a way to quickly and cost effectively generate an accurate image, companies like Curie can help to eliminate complexities in the apparel supply chain such as returns and even physical product sampling.
“It’s the same reason why you take one of those Pantone tiles home with you, and spend an hour going back and forth between the store and home before returning it,” Curie said. “You want to make sure that you get the size right.”
Shipping orders and returns taxes the environment “when you get this wrong, especially if it’s a very large item,” he said, adding, “we’re trying to avoid having people do that.”