You Have a Bra Problem and the Startup World Is Obsessed With Solving It
Ask any VC who focuses on e-commerce what types of startup ideas are hot right now, and intimate apparel startups will be at the top of the list. Silicon Valley, it seems, has a bit of an obsession with toppling Victoria’s Secret, whether it be by giving women a better fit or a better price. (Yesterday, I asked a Victoria’s Secret spokewoman to put me on the phone with someone to discuss the trend, but she declined.)
Among the better-known startups is True & Co., which has raised $6 million, promises a great fit, and targets a high-end customer. “For some people, Victoria’s Secret is the epitome of glamour, but not our customer,” CEO Michelle Lam told me recently. “Our customer grew up with it in high school and, frankly, is beyond it.”
There’s also Adore Me, which recently raised $8.5 million and is focused on bringing down prices through a fast-fashion model and monthly subscriptions.
Today, the startup is releasing an iPhone app that it says includes technology that will find great-fitting bras for customers. I asked my wife to try it out just to get a feel for how the app works. The idea of it sure sounds impressive — snap two photos of yourself and get a perfect fit — but it’s not a totally seamless experience.
It required enough tilting and zooming and pinching and re-photographing that she wanted to give up halfway through. But, after about 10 or 15 minutes and a few retakes, the app spit out her bra size.
There’s a catch. It’s not a normal bra size; it’s a custom ThirdLove size. It starts with “TL” and is followed by three digits.
If ThirdLove is going to give you a better fit, you’re going to have to buy from the company. That’s pretty reasonable.
Then ThirdLove provides a few choices of colors and styles in that size from its own collection of bras and panties. Bra prices start at $45; $12 for bottoms.
If the technology actually works — and that’s still a big if — ThirdLove could carve out a nice niche among tech-forward women. But, if the first shipment doesn’t live up to its promise, ThirdLove could have a hard time earning a second chance.