Thread, the U.K. personal styling service for men that uses a mixture of algorithms and humans to help solve the online clothes shopping problem, has raised a further round of funding.
This time growth investor Beringea is leading a £4 million round (approx. $5.7 million), with participation from existing backer Balderton Capital and a number of the company’s angel investors. It brings total funding to around $16 million.
“We’re keen to hire more engineers, data scientists and other team members to continue to refine the experience for customers. We’re also focusing on growing our list of brand partners. We raised this round to be able to do both those things while continuing to grow at the same pace as we have been recently,” Thread co-founder and CEO Kieran O’Neill tells TechCrunch in an email.
A quick reminder of how Thread works. You join the site and take a style questionnaire and optionally upload photos of yourself. A stylist — as in an actual human — then reviews your information and, supported by Thread’s algorithms, the site generates style recommendations personalized for you, claiming to take into account more than 50 elements of style, from eye color and body shape to brand, fit and fabric. You then rate the items and the service promises to become smarter and more personalized over time.
“All the stylists work with us full-time, based out of our office in London,” explains O’Neill. “They review the user’s information (and photo if they add one), then teach our algorithm what they think would suit the user best. The algorithm pulls together the perfect items and outfits across the 250,000 items our partners stock, and emails the selection to the user.”
The business model is straightforward, too. If you like what Thread recommends — and that’s the whole point — then you are given the option to buy the items of clothing directly from the startup, who will then ship them to you, postage included, and share the revenue generated with the brands it partners with. “We always give people the best recommendations for them, the stylists are completely impartial,” adds the Thread CEO.
As it stands, the service is targeting men only, despite Thread testing a version for women when it went through Y Combinator in 2012. “We’ll be relaunching womenswear in the future, but we don’t have a set date for that yet,” says O’Neill.