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Bow and Drape corners e‑commerce niche with made-to-measure women’s fashion

Short­ly after rais­ing $32,000 through a suc­cess­ful Kick­starter cam­paign, Boston based start­up Bow & Drape is mak­ing a unique for­ay into the e‑commerce mar­ket for made-to-mea­sure women’s clothing.

A good deal of intel­li­gent prepa­ra­tion has gone into the new ven­ture, which has deter­mined­ly tak­en into con­sid­er­a­tion the fact that men and women tend to shop dif­fer­ent­ly.  As can­ny e‑commerce man­agers and e‑commerce ana­lysts spe­cial­iz­ing in the online cloth­ing mar­ket will be aware, men find shop­ping for clothes about as plea­sur­able as tak­ing a trip to the den­tist.  They’re hap­py to enter a few basic mea­sure­ments online, click on the shirt and pants they like, and be done with it.

Why women pre­fer shops to the net for clothes

Women tend to see clothes shop­ping as a social expe­ri­ence.  They like brows­ing through the styles and fab­rics on offer in bricks-and-mor­tar stores, often tak­ing friends along to join in.  And siz­ing is more com­pli­cat­ed for women — a waist size of 30 doesn’t always mean that a gar­ment bear­ing that num­ber will fit prop­er­ly.  Add to that the fact that ear­ly test­ing by Bow & Drape’s founder and CEO Aubrie Pagano indi­cat­ed that women are more ret­i­cent than men about enter­ing their mea­sure­ments online, and things start to look a tri­fle dif­fi­cult for any e‑commerce firm tar­get­ing this area.

A stroke of genius

So, how does Bow & Drape sur­mount these obsta­cles?  Web con­tent man­agers might want to sit up and lis­ten, as strokes of genius often come wrapped in sim­ple con­cepts.  The site con­tains six core sil­hou­ettes, co-designed with top fash­ion­ista Sarah Par­rott.  Vis­i­tors sim­ply place any of the item cat­e­gories they’ve been attract­ed to onto the sil­hou­ette they like, mix­ing, match­ing and cus­tomiz­ing col­ors, fab­rics, sleeve-length, hem­line design neck­lines, but­tons and trend­ing fea­tures like peplums.  All told, that adds up to 30,000 dif­fer­ent pos­si­bil­i­ties.  Pho­to-real­is­tic images are instant­ly ren­dered the moment a new item or fea­ture is added to the silhouette.

As soon as cus­tomers set­tle on a com­bo and design mix they’re hap­py with, they sim­ply select their size and Bow & Drape sends out free muslin “fit kits” in three vari­ant sizes.  Women just chose the size that fits best at home and the ful­ly made gar­ment will arrive in a fort­night.  Fur­ther­more, returns are accept­ed if it doesn’t feel right.

All in all, that looks like “prob­lems solved.”

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