We’ve been waiting a long time for this, a company that can offer consumers the convenience of Stitchfix door delivery fashions with the individual design and custom tailoring of bespoke and couture. COUTURME, a San Francisco start-up has managed to succeed where so many other custom fit software and bio measurement companies have struggled. Like Stitchfix, Couturme starts with a style questionnaire, but then takes the process all the way through production, offering both speed and nearly infinite design options. With over 32 million possibilities and 97% fit accuracy based on thousands of customer interactions, customers can create nearly any design they want with near perfect fit. No other company has accomplish this so completely. COUTURME’S secret is patent-pending CAD software.
How it works: Step 1. Fill out a short questionnaire with your AI stylist assistant. Step2. Survey a number of styles selected based on your answers. Step 3. Re-design. Change the neckline, sleeve length, skirt length, or even change the waistline positioning to create an entirely different design. Step 4. Give your AI tailor your measurements. Don’t worry, COUTURME’S tailor doesn’t judge. Step 5. A perfectly fitting pattern in minutes. Step 6. Your pattern is sent to a factory where it is made in the fabrics you selected. Step 7. Your design is flown back to you.
Why this promises to be so big. Over 74 Million American women do not fit standard sizes. This leads to large numbers of returns, overproduction and waste, not to mention frustration and poor self-esteem. Already the company has thousands of customers who have used the software to create designs for special occasions like the red carpet and with selections of not just dresses but also blazers, pants and blouses, women can create entire wardrobes with perfect fit. Other companies have tried large, expensive scanners to create better fits but this requires women to come in person to stores and then only helps them select better fits from clothes that have already been produced. Other custom fit software companies offer so few design options that they fail to entice today’s fashion savvy consumers.
The company launched 3 months ago during W19 Y Combinator batch, one of the most prestigious accelerator programs in the world, that takes only 1.5% of 11,000+ companies that apply twice a year. Since launch, the sales have been compounding 11% week over week and co-founders Yulia Raquel and Don Straub see a potential for COUTURME to become an online marketplace for infinite custom fashion as large as Amazon, processing billions of dollars of sales and boasting 68%+ margins, while fulfilling on their goal of a sustainable future.
Why has COUTURME succeeded so beautifully where so many other customization, biometrics and sizing platforms have struggled? Many of those companies are started by designers who don’t understand the tech or business side, or were started by tech and business people who don’t understand fashion. As a result, they’ve struggled to engage customers who want the latest fashions. Not the case here. Yuliya Raquel, CEO and co-founder, knows fashion and fit, and she understands the manufacturing challenges retail companies face. Before COUTURME, she founded and ran a direct to consumer women’s plus size clothing brand, IGIGI, which sold over $43 million online. The company has the perfect balance of engineers, design and business people behind it and with 32 million options, they can offer today’s discerning customers real fashions that are on trend. Yuliya and her co-founder Don Straub built a team of 2 PhD’s and 7 Engineers fiver years ago to begin creating the software and have put their lives on hold to work tirelessly day and night to make it perfect.
For them, it’s important to offer real value. “This is not just a sizing app, or a design tool,” says Yuliya. “We see our technology as having the potential to solve fashion’s sustainability problems. With the click of a button, consumers can wear anything they want on demand, perfectly fitted to them. And with the automation of the entire fashion design process, consumers can receive their clothes in a short period of time at a minimal cost to the brand. A couple of companies have taken the lead by offering customization of some items on their website, but nearly 99% of fashion companies are still reliant on the old traditional method of garment design and pattern development. Thus having to place gigantic production orders.” Knowing what I do about how much of today’s fashion ends up in landfill, walking into a department store and seeing a sea of coats makes me feel physically ill. So do shopping apps. No offense to the bright and passionate minds risking it all to do what they believe in and create them, but we are at an existential as well as a global climate crisis. We don’t need are MORE ways to shop. What we need are FEWER.“We’ve created bespoke for everyone. Now that we have the software, it’s become clear that it has real potential to solve the fashion industry’s sustainability issue,” says Yuliya.
The idea started while Yuliya was running IGIGI. She became aware of the massive challenges individuals face in having their clothes custom designed and manufactured to fit their unique bodies and style preferences. “I just couldn’t stand the fact that so many women who wanted to have custom bespoke fashion couldn’t because of huge design and product development costs and large minimums required for production,” she says, “so I began looking for a solution. Let’s say you are going to attend a wedding and want to wear a unique design to express your individual style and personality so you don’t look like anyone else. You can’t find anything that fits you, but to hire a fashion designer and a seamstress is going to cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Today most fashion brands can’t offer bespoke design due to enormous complexities and the extensive costs to design fashion and generate made-to-fit patterns. Alternatively, going to a local atelier is equally expensive and out of reach for those on a budget. With COUTURME, any woman can get bespoke fashion to fit her body, style and budget, starting at $199. That’s a price that many more women can afford. “
In addition bespoke sportswear separates, COUTURME has created designs for the bridal wear market. They recognize this as an area where women on a budget often struggle with sizing and style the most. With COUTURME, women can choose from a plethora of wedding gown styles and buy a bespoke gown from $700-$1500. “This is thousands less than a typical couture gown and delivered many months faster” says Yuliya. Yuliya and her team are working towards adding even more unique features to the software. “We understand not everyone knows how to design or even how to style themselves. We plan to add influencers, designers, and stylists to provide guidance for our customers. We want people to feel confident in their choices and we want to avoid the waste that happens when people design without knowledge and end up with something they don’t like which then goes into the dumpster.”
Just how big of an impact does this make on the environment? Mass production leads to 10-25% of textiles leftover from cutting thousands of units at the same time. Moreover, as brands reduce quality and production costs to stay afloat, 15 million tons of used textile waste gets generated in the USA by consumers of fast fashion alone. Overproduction is another issue. Take H&M for example, which burned $4.3B of leftover stock last year. They are not alone, as all the ready-to-wear brands and manufacturers have to dispose of millions of units of unsold or returned inventory somewhere. This causes devastating immediate and long-term impact on the environment through toxins released into the air.
Even more advantages exist for retail with COUTURME. Removing the need for large orders would reduce the economic strain of high rents on large spaces, or open up room for retailers to offer more experiences and events. Today the companies that are staving off the so called “retail apocalypse” are doing so by creating fun interactive and communal experiences for consumers where they can relax, share and connect.
“We are excited by the endless possibilities for B2C as well as B2B,” says Yuliya. “We know our system has the potential to completely disrupt the fashion industry.” Email inqiries click here.