“Fast fashion” has made it easy to stay on top of trends, but drastically lowered the quality of clothing available in mass market stores. Several startups, include Bonobos, Indochino, J. Hilburn, and Trumaker, are trying to reverse the trend by offering custom-made menswear. Now a new startup called Numari wants to do the same thing for women.
To purchase a dress from Numari, customers fill out a measurement profile (the site says doing this takes less than 15 minutes) and pick details like hemlines and sleeve length.
Garments are made-to-order in Asia and take about three weeks to process and ship, which co-founder Arti Anand says is about the same as for men’s custom brands. As Numari scales up, it hopes to reduce that time to 10 to 14 days.
Standard sizing for women’s wear often ignores the differences in body proportion and height, says Anand.
“I have personally met a ‘fit model’ (someone who helps guide a brand on how a certain size should fit) for my standard size and this woman was 6 inches taller than me with completely different proportions,” she wrote in an email.
“It’s no wonder that while apparel is one of the largest and fastest growing e-commerce categories, it suffers from high return rates.”
If a Numari garment’s fit is off but fixable, the company will reimburse the customer up to $30 for alterations, remake the garment for free, or offer a full refund. Prices range from about $160 to $280, about the same as mid-market brands like Ann Taylor and J. Crew.
Numari is able to keep costs down with a “tech-enabled operational work flow” and because it doesn’t have to carry finished inventory, says Anand, who is currently bootstrapping Numari with co-founder Komal Kushal Raj.
Anand says the rise of startups that offer men’s custom clothing is also “fueling some of the pent-up demand in the women’s market.”
To be sure, there are already several notable startups offering custom clothing for women, like Bow & Drape and eShakti. There are also sellers on Etsy and eBay who make bespoke garments for women at similar price points and turnaround times to Numari.
Bow & Drape, however, focuses on casual clothing with customizable details, but not fit, and Anand says that Numari offers higher-end clothing and more classic styles than eShakti.
Numari also gives customers a more convenient and streamlined shopping experience than buying from individual vendors on Etsy or eBay.
“We aim to serve the affordable luxury market who is looking to keep these garments for a longer period of time, and thus require better materials, quality, and finishing,” says Anand.