Nyree Corby noticed online fashion had a problem when she saw an article about a woman who bought a dress from a website based in China. When she received the dress, she found it was made of a different material, and was of a much lower quality, than what she thought she was purchasing online.
“That struck me as so unusual,” said Corby. “How can we still be in a place where the most digitally connected demographic is underserved in such a huge category? So, I dug deeper.”
Last year, Corby launched her company, Fame and Partners, an e-commerce retailer selling customizable dresses and separates. The online store went live earlier in August, after the company relocated from Australia to Los Angeles, having raised $7.6 million in Series A venture funding in April.
Corby believes her business differentiates in the online fashion retail market on two points: trend prediction and factory production. Fame and Partners sells about 50 different styles of dresses, tops and skirts, but it holds no inventory and every item sold is customizable. Shoppers choose their neckline, dress length, color, pattern, skirt style and more, and then it’s made on-demand. Data algorithms determine the trends that go live on the site, as well as sizing options. The promised turnaround time for the items, made in China, is three to five days.
We asked Corby to share how she envisions the future of e-commerce, and why she believes her company is positioning itself to help right the industry’s many wrongs.
The impact social media has made on fashion trends: “A trend is here and gone in 30 days. The traditional manufacturing and buying cycle is six months — any average person could understand that’s a big disconnect, but nobody knows what to do about it.”
How vanity sizing hurts the industry: “Fit is the number one reason for returns, and the retail industry is the problem. Sizing, vanity sizing doesn’t work, and that’s the biggest issue, really. Going online has proven how broken it is.”
On what women actually want to wear: “A woman’s wardrobe isn’t based on trends. It’s about what flatters her, and how she interprets the trends. We don’t want to take a pretentious view of fashion, but we want to be modern.”
The future of fashion, in five words: “Heavy, heavy level of personalization.”
Go on… “We’re entering an era of personalization. Personalized selling, merchandising, product, shopping. Our goal is to offer a deeply personalized experience, end to end. We’re at a time when you can’t apply one of anything to an entire group or industry.”
Her secret to turning around customized dresses in 5 days? “It all takes place on the factory floor. When you have a production line of 20 people to make a garment with the same skill level, you can’t optimize for different efficiencies. When you organize an arrangement of physical and skilled labor based on each sale, your output changes. That’s all I can tell you, though. It’s our secret sauce.”