Meet the startup that’s getting the right fit for women’s tailored apparel
A penchant for dressing up but rarely finding the right fit with readymade garments led Gurugram-based doctor Drishti Anand to turn to entrepreneurship and set up an online platform that helps women get perfectly stitched outfits delivered to their doorsteps.
“I have always been someone who loves dressing up, but readymade clothes have a size and fit problem,” says Drishti. This meant she had to pay several visits to tailors and boutiques over weeks, even months.
In 2018, to ensure her family would not face a similar situation leading up to her sister’s wedding, she took on the responsibility of getting their outfits stitched by tailors.
Yet a day before the wedding, she realised several garments needed alterations, there were quality issues, and some fabrics had not even been stitched on time.
“That was the last straw,” says Drishti.
She spoke to more than 1,000 women about whether they too had faced problems with the stitching and fitting of their clothes. All of them said it was an issue, more so for those aged 35-55.
Drishti found that more than 80 percent of outfits in their wardrobes were either stitched end to end or altered versions of readymade outfits.
Hence, in September 2019, she founded LetsDressUp with her husband Aditya Balani, who previously worked with a management consultant firm.
The designer working on the fabric
Holes in the fabric
Before launching her startup, Drishti spent months at various tailoring units and boutiques trying to understand their pain points.
She found that master tailors were spending 30 percent less time cutting and stitching fabrics, which was their forte, and more time haggling with customers, taking their measurements, noting their design preferences and taking care of fabrics, none of which was their core skill.
“Many times, they were seen struggling to propose designs to women. All this led to suboptimal results for the buyer and the seller,” says Drishti.
The offline setup, comprising tailors, boutiques and other units, was also highly unstructured and riddled with issues including inconsistent quality, opaque pricing, lack of timelines and the requirement of multiple alterations before the right fit was achieved.
The team ties up with individual tailors and gives them orders based on what the team receives online. “Improper fits were the chief reason for the fashion industry scoring the highest return rate of items, 40 percent of which was driven by ecommerce sites as I found during my initial days of reach,”says Drishti. The problem was aggravated by the fact that India lacks its own size chart.
The biggest challenge, she adds, was providing a customer personalisation in a scalable manner. The team also had to scale back during the first two months of the lockdown. But were soon able to bounce back and start operations.
“We have been able to overcome this by building a technology-first solution based on strong user insights,” Drishti says.
A tailor on the platform
A tailor-made venture
Operating with a team of 10 people at present, LetsDressUp has built an end-to-end tech stack that brings customers, logistics partners, tailor partners and the startup’s own central hub together in one place.
All a customer has to do is visit the LetsDressUp website, select the date when a fabric would be picked up from her home and choose the type of outfit she wants from LetsDressUp’s catalogue. Then, the customer puts up her specifications on the site and any other specific needs for the garments.
The platform has instructions and interactions for the same, followed by finalising of the design, this design is customised as per the needs of the customer.
The stitched and fitted item as per her specifications is home-delivered within a week. The range of outfits at the moment are primarily Indian, Western, and ethic. Operational in Gurugram now, the team felt the need of women consumers needed to be addressed first.
At the backend, the logistics partner picks up the fabric from the customer and delivers it to the assigned tailor partner. This depends on the design, the needs of the customer, and the skill-level of the tailor. The fabric is stitched and quality-checked in house by the LetsDressUp team, before being delivered to the customer.
The platform charges customers for every perfect fit that it executes. Charges are typically 10-20 percent higher than those at a typical tailoring unit or boutique.
“Every outfit that we are executing is like a data point,” says Drishti, “And with enough data points, we will be the first ones to claim India’s size chart. We’ll also leverage this data to create readymade apparel and be the go-to partner for brands to sell perfect-fit outfits. This will allow us to build India’s version of Stitch Fix.”
US-based Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that uses recommendation algorithms and data science to offer tailor-made clothing based on size, budget, and style.
In India, startups like Urban Tailor, and more recently Fablestreet, which is primarily restricted to formal wear, follow a similar model.
The women's formal wear market is one of the fastest-growing markets across the globe. The customised clothing market according to markets and research is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of around six percent during 2017-2024, with revenue reaching more than $690 billion by 2024.
According to Drishti, what makes LetsDressUp’s business model highly scalable is that it runs like the production unit of a readymade apparel brand, where supply-side inefficiencies of tailoring units are removed even as customers are offered the personalisation of an outfit tailored to their specifications.
“LetsDressUp has been growing at 25 percent month-on-month over the past six months,” she says, “At the current pace we will be at an ARR of Rs 100 crore in two years.”
The founder claims that the platform clocks an average order value of Rs 2,000, with gross margins of nearly 50 percent and contribution margins of close to 15 percent.
The platform’s rapid growth has also brought in funding. The team has raised angel investment from Kearney Country Head Kaushika Madhavan, Kearney partner Saurabh Singh, and principal Sudeep Maheshwari; Abhishek Malhotra, Partner-Consumer Practice at McKinsey & Co; Farmery Founder and former CEO Vivek Kuttappan; BlackWatch Advisors LLC VP Gautam Midha, and IIFL COO Anshuman Maheshwary.
(Edited by Lena Saha and Saheli Sen Gupta)