Stitch Fix is bringing its business model to higher-end fashion — opening up a new full-price avenue to the customer and a trove of data that many brands sorely need.
The Silicon Valley-based company is officially adding more than 100 brands today, offering users of its subscription box service Kate Spade, Rebecca Minkoff and Alice + Olivia in women’s, John Varvatos and Todd Snyder in men’s and Citizens of Humanity and Paige for both, plus many more. Prices on the new range start at $100 for some knitwear to $600 for leather jackets.
Stitch Fix users who have a profile that matches up with the new brands and a higher price threshold will start to receive the looks in their “fixes,” as appropriate.
The move expands Stitch Fix’s offering significantly and will test, again, an approach to selling fashion that so far proven to be a rocket ship, building revenues to $730 million in six years as the business took on women’s and then expanded into men’s last year and then plus sizes this year.
Stitch Fix uses artificial intelligence to coordinate its own inventory with its customers’ preferences, serving up options to the company’s 3,500 stylists, who add the human touch and choose five looks for customers to try on at home.
The company — which is something like a Netflix for fashion, recommending what users should try next — knows more about its customers than most brands and is sharing the data with its new partners.
“The introduction of these brands is really based on strong client feedback,” said Lisa Bougie, general manager for women’s, who said users have been asking for at least some of the new brands by name.
Over 50 percent of the new branded offering on the women’s side is exclusive to the service, with the brands tapping into Stitch Fix’s trove of data to best target their goods.
“We are in the business of personalization and, as such, we hold ourselves to a very high bar to meet the needs of our clients,” Bougie said.
In a retail world that is seen as all-too promotional, Stitch Fix is a full-price outlet that does not come back to vendors for markdown money, as is typically the case with department stores.
Bougie called it a “very clean wholesale relationship” and said, “the back and forth that a brand is accustomed to with other types of wholesale channels is not a part of our process.”
Since Stitch Fix has no stores, it’s also not in direct conflict with any particular chain or industry ego — the selling happens online and in people’s own bedrooms.
And all that’s been a relief to Paige Adams-Geller, founder and creative director of Paige, which has been testing goods with Stitch Fix since June.
“To me, it’s almost like, take a big breath of relief,” said Adams-Geller. “It’s like, oh my god, the day-in and day-out drama that you have to deal with sometimes, that you want to be politically correct and not offend anyone…that takes a lot of time and energy.”
She said working with Stitch Fix has also made her more data-aware.
“What was really fascinating to me is to see how in-depth Stitch Fix is with their knowledge and their analytics and their algorithms and what happens when the customer fills out their questionnaire and what’s delivered to the customers’ home,” Adams-Geller said.
And Paige has been choosy with its partners.
“I’ve never sold any online fashion sites or any online discounters because I felt like I have to protect my reputation and our brand so we can have longevity…I think Stich Fix has that same like-mindedness,” Adams-Geller said.
To help bring the new brands to its customers, Stitch Fix has trained 1,000 of its stylists to understand the elevated construction and fabrication and to give them the know-how to put together looks, including high-low styles that pair big name brands with other offerings.
Chris Phillips, vice president of men’s said this training is key to making sure customers get styles that fit, which he said is “the number-one attribute” for guys using Stitch Fix.
For instance, most brands carry XXL sizes, but exactly what that means varies from line to line. Through its process, Stitch Fix has sought to standardize its understanding of how items fit to deliver the right size to an individual regardless of what the tags read.
Through feedback from customers, Stitch Fix also knows what works for the user base as a whole and as individuals. It’s a personalized approach that doesn’t have to guess who the customer is.
And that is providing insights that are, in some cases, filtering out to the broader businesses of brands coming on board.
“Those partners are now changing the specs of their goods for their overall business because they know that it’s actually going to be better,” Phillips said.
And better is what Stitch Fix is going for.
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