Édition Lingerie, an online bra measuring and sales platform, moved to Berlin from New York hoping to take advantage of a shift in the market which its founders believe will happen in Europe. They want their service, which is set to launch in February, to be at the forefront of a splintering in the underwear e-commerce market which has already occurred across the Atlantic.
And some big European brands have taken notice of their potential, and are set to partner with Édition Lingerie to help market the service in Germany.
The arrival of many smaller firms in the online lingerie market in the US persuaded co-founders Guillaume Kretz, originally from Paris, and American Alexandrine Koegel to make the move across the Pond in August. They had originally met at Columbia Business School.
And they want to emulate the success of American lingerie e-commerce platforms like True and co – which also offers remote bra fitting – which launched in May 2012, Adore Me, (November 2011), and intiMint, founded this summer, which have all experienced rapid growth and attracted investment. The Édition Lingerie team has also secured some funding what it terms ‘strategic’ investors, although they are unwilling to discuss specifics.
Guillaume told Silicon Allee that the shift in market trends had created an opening in Europe: “E-commerce in the US is now fragmenting. The big players arrived a while ago and captured most of the market share, but now you can see smaller players that have arrived two or three years ago having a more content arranged strategy, with a more refined target – higher hand clients – rather than a Zalando or Amazon.”
So far, Édition Lingerie has linked up with some well-known brands including Calvin Klein Underwear, DKNY, hanky panky and Chantelle Paris. Guillaume added: “The manufacturers are very interested in that. They have been working for the past 100 years in making great bras, and now they have lost a little bit of connection online with their customers, so now they are willing to put all their knowhow into our tool – putting the unwritten rules of bra fitting into an equation.”
Lingerie brands are at a considerable disadvantage in the e-commerce market, due to the need for precise bra fitting. But the sizing tool opens up a potentially large market for manufacturers. They will help out with marketing and drawing attention to Édition Lingerie’s ability to calculate sizes on their own websites, while in turn Édition Lingerie will offer these brands for sale.
Guillaume hopes the online service will avoid the “weird dynamic” with the sales assistant, and go some way to making sure women are wearing the right bra – some 80 per cent of German women are not, he claims – which can lead to scarring, inadequate support, and bad posture.
The sizing is based on two questionnaires. One concerns which brands and style users like, which factors in an algorithm leading to a selection of products, while the other concerns their size. To do this rather more complicated part, you put on your favourite bra, specify the brand and size, and then check eight criteria to see whether it is the right fit. There are also instructions for customers to size themselves with a measuring tape, while users can try on the bras in their home to make sure it fits.
“We will analyse the customer’s shape, the customer’s needs, but we will also try to learn from our customers and analyse their behaviour, so our algorithm will progressively get more and more clever, to find customers the right bra.”
The German launch in February will be followed up with the French launch in May.