Fitbay, a fashion-focused social network aiming to crowdsource the online clothes shopping fit problem by letting people of a similar size and body shape see which clothes their size and shape ‘body doubles’ are wearing, has closed a $2 million seed funding round.
The Danish startup pulled in an angel round of funding earlier this year, raising $400,000 from Jesper Buch (founder of Just-Eat) and Creandum, so it’s building a head of steam on the early funding front.
Also today, the startup is launching its first iOS app which will let users take photos of clothes that fit them to share with their body doubles in the Fitbay community.
Fitbay aims to improve the online clothes buying experience by helping its users identify clothes that are more likely to fit them before they click buy.
It does this by asking its users to categorize their body shape as one of a handful of different basic shapes (like pear, cone or apple), and take a ‘body quiz’ answering some general questions like height, weight and the size of particular parts of their body (such as their arms or torso).
It shies away from requiring them to take a tape measure to particular body parts to avoid too much tedious legwork being required for people to start to participate. The level of friction is important because Fitbay ideally needs to position itself as less of a hassle to use than the plentiful virtual fitting room startups that are also attacking this problem.
Virtual fitting room rivals to Fitbay include the likes of Fits.me, Virtusize, True Fit, Metail, Clothes Horse and Fitiquette (now owned by Myntra), to name a few. It’s a very packed space because determining fit and style preference remotely is a surprisingly challenging problem to crack. Especially given that it only takes the average human a few seconds in a changing room to figure out whether they would, in fact, be caught dead in those jeans or not.
For this reason, online clothes shopping remains hugely hampered by a high rate of returns. Fitbay cites research carried out by Credit Suisse this January which found that 40% of online clothing purchases are returned for multiple reasons, including issues with size/fit. (Fashion undoubtedly is, in and of itself, part of the problem too — since figuring out whether something suits is generally even more difficult than figuring out if it fits.)
Fitbay claims its offering is less arduous to use that virtual fitting rooms that do require very specific measurements because it only asks some general questions of its users.
That said, Fitbay users can input additional very specific style and fit data by telling the platform about particular branded items of clothing they already own that do fit well. So it can get plenty tedious too, but the user is not required to feed in all this specific item data to at least get some clothes recommendations.
Fitbay uses all these shape, fit and size questions to group its users according to size and fit preference, and to display a personalized feed of branded clothes which it reckons are more likely to fit them.
Users are also able to follow others of a similar body shape and size, much like a social network, so they can get to see the sorts of clothes they are wearing and determine which garments might make sense for their body shape.
If all that sounds worthy but a bit like hard work, never fear — Fitbay has a trump card in its back pocket: selfies. It’s encouraging its users to use its iOS app to share what it calls “selfies with a purpose” — aka photos of themselves wearing clothes that fit well so their body doubles can benefit.
“Photos is a core part of our strategy,” founder & CEO Christian Wylonis tells TechCrunch. “One of the core features [of our app] is to take selfies of yourself wearing clothes that fit.
“It is the first time where selfies actually have a practical application. These pictures are shared with your ‘body doubles’ so they can visualize how clothes will fit them. This takes the guessing out of choosing the right size and determining how clothes will fit you.”
Fitbay launched an invite-only beta to on-board around 1,000 users back in February, and then gradually started letting in more. It won’t say exactly how many users it’s up to now, but says it’s in the “tens of thousands”. It’s aiming to have a million users a year from now.
Its clothes database currently has some two million items in it. Fitbay’s business model involves a revenue share in any clothes sales made via its platform.
The new funding round will be used to grow the product team in Copenhagen, and the commercial team in New York, Fitbay said today. It will also be spending to further develop the product and the available features.
Commenting on the funding in a statement, Martin Hauge, General Partner at Creandum, said: “We are proud to back Fitbay for the second time within 6 months. The user growth and engagement have been exceptional, and we have high hopes for what Fitbay can become.”