Tech startups move fashion forward

While runways and award shows continue to inspire what we wear, innovation around how we buy clothes seems to be running fashionable late. But now many startups are responding with creative and common sense approaches to purchasing and the consumer experience. Brian Hecht, our serial entrepreneur, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss tech startups and the trends in the fashion industry.

TRANSCRIPT

While runways and award shows continue to inspire what we wear, innovation around how we buy clothes seems to be running fashionably late.

The industry may be seeing trickles of technological advancement.

But many start-ups are responding with creative and common-sense approaches to purchasing and consumer experience.

Brian Hecht, our resident serial entrepreneur, joins us to discuss the tech start-ups and trends in the fashion industry.

Brian, I've got to ask, how much can technology impact how I pick clothes off a rack or how I buy clothes?

Yeah. Well, it's -- Fashion has sort of been the unloved stepchild of the technology revolution.

I mean, there have been start-ups that make it easier to buy through e-commerce with a wider variety or cool brands like Warby Parker or, you know, Bonobos.

But there's very little that sort of changed the relationship that we have to the clothes we wear, which is one of the most intimate choices, consumer choices that we have.

So I like these companies that we'll talk about because they really are taking a stab at coming at it from a different angle.

You know, I -- if you're super wealthy, you can have a tailor cut your clothes and have a perfect fit every time.

Your first start-up, Fittery, I'm assuming it's in the fitting space.

Yeah.

It is in the fitting space.

But it's specifically for clothes that you buy online.

I mean, we've all bought online clothes, probably.

This outfit I bought online.

And the problem is it's very hard to get something that fits, right?

A lot of people will buy three of the same thing and send back two and, you know, keep the one.

Or they'll buy and it doesn't quite fit but they keep it because it's too much of a hassle to return.

So Fittery makes it much easier to find what fits by not requiring you to understand a size chart, by asking you a series of natural-language questions and showing you pictures that allow you to figure out your body type and are your arms long or short that people like you and me can actually answer without a tailor.

And they don't sell directly to consumers.

They work with retailers so that you can go to a site for your favorite store or e-commerce site.

You put in your measurements, you have a profile, and then it'll suggest clothing across different brands that fit you, not just your strict measurements, but your whole body type.

Okay.

A perfect fit would be a 3D print of it, right?

So Thursday's Finest -- what are they really bringing you?

They are bringing the revolution in 3D printing to fashion.

So, 3D printing, we think about these, you know, gigantic printers that use plastic and they print keychains or little sculptures or something like this.

They do this for knitwear, so things like socks and ties.

And they're coming into hats.

So if you think about it, you know, they create on-demand garments just for you.

So socks come in one size, maybe small, medium, large.

I have size-11 feet.

I should get size-11 socks.

You and I are not the same height.

We have the same tie length.

You know, we should probably get, you know, different ties.

So, they also, in order to reinforce their brand image and as a little incentive, they have custom embroidery because you're doing it on demand.

You're creating these things.

So, if you're old-fashioned, you can get your initials embroidered in, or you can get a tie that says, 'SciTech Now.'

And that might be fun, too.

Okay. All right.

Closet Collective.

It's Airbnb for fashion.

What does that mean?

Yeah. That's right.

I mean, if you look in your closet or I in mine, there are probably tons of things that you've bought that you've worn once or twice and probably some that still have the tag on.

And that is incredibly wasteful.

So this is a marketplace where, if that's you, you can lend out those clothes and make money by doing it.

You just take a picture of it, and you upload it to the site, just like you might do on eBay if you're selling something.

And if you want to borrow these clothes, they have 2 million different garments on the site.

You pay, one time, $45 for a one-month rental.

And it can't be renewed, so you can't claim, 'Oh, I forgot to return the thing I borrowed from my friend.'

Then you send it after your 45 days -- I'm sorry. It's 30 days.

You send it back to the company.

They take care of the dry cleaning, the logistics, the shipping, which is no small feat, given that you have garments coming from all around the country and then going back out, as well.

So it's $45 per item or flat?

$45 dollars per item per 30 days.

Okay. So, that means that you could have access to a $1,000 suit for $45 if that's what somebody's putting out into the marketplace.

Absolutely, and the founding story is it was two women who -- There was an event that was coming up, and they were always borrowing from each other's closets.

And they said, 'Well, wasn't there... Wouldn't it be great if there was a way not just to borrow one friend to another but to tap into the millions and millions of pieces of clothing that are sitting unused in people's closets.'

All right.

Brian Hecht, thanks for joining us.

Thank you.