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All boobs are not created equal. Thirdlove announced today that it has raised $5.6 million led by venture capital heavyweights New Enterprise Associates and Andreessen Horowitz to launch a lingerie brand and corresponding mobile app.
ThirdLove is made up of two distinct halves — the retail side and the technology side. The company designs, sources, and manufactures bras and panties in house and sells them through the mobile app. However its key characteristic is its use of mobile technology to assess every woman’s unique size.
“The number one reason people return products that they buy online is due to fit,” said cofounder Heidi Zak in an interview at VentureBeat’s offices. “We have created an app using computer vision technology that consumers can use to fit themselves. We use computer algorithms to calculate her actual measurements and place her in the correct size.”
Finding a well-fitting bra is a challenge. Every brand’s sizing is different and you may prefer one size in one style and another size for another. True & Co is a well-known service that judges womens’ bra size through an online quiz, and mails them bras that are likely to be good fits. ThirdLove is different because it actually creates its own bras, which cofounder David Spector said is a core part of its vision.
“We factor in data about sizing into the construction of our products” he said. “We are using this data to build a better fitting apparel company and to create a super personalized experience. Our goal is to build a next generation e-commerce platform.”
The founders said ThirdLove has double the number of sizes of the average brand. The app will guide users through taking photos of their bust from the front and side (you can still wear a bra or form-fitting shirt). Once it reads your size, it takes you into ThirdLove’s store where you can pick from three bra styles, choose customized features like straps and color, and purchase matching panties.
Direct-to-consumer brands are taking off right now because by cutting out the middlemen, designers can engage directly with consumers and offer their inventory at a lower price point. There are a host of male-focused e-commerce companies out there, such as Indochino, that take measurements and present garments accordingly. Zak said that lingerie is the “perfect category” for bringing this approach to women.
“Buying bras is not a social shopping experience,” she said. “It’s not like buying a fun dress where you want your friends opinions and can wear it out that night. Women really dread it. We want to make it a seamless, fun experience.”
ThirdLove is the first brand out of parent company MeCommerce, which is based in San Francisco. MeCommerce was founded in 2012 and plans to launch other brands in the future. This financing will be used primarily to scale the supply chain. It plans to launch this fall.