For women, it’s not always easy to find a perfect pair of jeans online, and now one Kirkland, Wash.-based startup wants to help.
Founded last year, Fitcode just raised a $1.8 million investment round led by Seattle-based firm Harvey Partners. The company is somewhat a virtual fashion advisor, helping women figure out which jeans will fit best with a short algorithm-powered quiz that determines a woman’s body type.
The goal is to improve the online shopping experience for women while reducing returns for retailers and brands.
“For online shopping, it really comes down to fit, not size,” said 27-year-old co-founder Rian Buckley. “Other offers on the market are totally focused on solving for size, which is interesting because as most women know, just because you can button a jean doesn’t mean it looks good.”
The idea for Fitcode was inspired from Buckley’s experience as a model in the fashion industry, where the CEO noticed a problem for women who were shopping for clothes online. For one, she was surprised with how much pinning, altering, and Photoshop utilization was required to make clothing look good in a photo, which gave consumers an image likely very different from the product the model was actually wearing.
On top of that, Buckley kept hearing online retailers complain about how many returns they were receiving from customers — not having a standardized measurement across different brands certainly didn’t help this problem.
Buckley, who still models today, concluded that women needed a better way to shop online for jeans that actually fit their specific body type and came up with a technology-fueled solution. Fitcode’s secret sauce lies within a short quiz that identifies one of nine “Fitcode” numbers by asking women questions about “curve,” “booty,” “thighs,” “legs,” and the denim size of a person’s favorite brand.
“What we learned is that women don’t want to take out a tape measure and share their measurements,” said Buckley, who graduated from the University of Washington in 2010. “Through discussions and focus groups, we narrowed our approach to finding out about a woman’s body type to three things: an image representing different body shapes, typical fit headaches we were hearing, and a description of a body type.“
After identifying the correct “Fitcode,” women can browse a curated selection of denim from supported brands directly on Fitcode’s platform like Nordstrom, 7 For All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, and more. When they are ready to buy, the user is directed to the product page on the retailer’s website where they can complete the transaction.
Buckley didn’t specify how exactly Fitcode makes money, only noting that it is focused on addressing two problems: The fit challenge for consumers shopping online and the high return challenge for retailers and brands.
“Everything we do is around attacking these challenges, including our monetization strategy,” she noted.
While the company does not manage inventory, it does order one pair of each item on its website to hand-measure the jeans and help improve the accuracy of the “Fitcode.” The startup also produces short videos showing the jeans in action so women can see how the denim fits on a similar body type.
Fitcode, which employs nine, will use the fresh funding to build out its technology and form more partnerships with denim brands. Buckley originally co-founded Fitcode with Brianna Cooley, but Cooley has since left to “pursue interests outside of Fitcode,” according to the company.