Kiana Anvaripour founded a shapewear line called dMondaine in 2010. Since then, Anvaripour and her co-workers have fielded millions of emails from customers asking highly personal questions about shape, sizing and fit options.
“There’s something very intimate about emails about intimates,” said Anvaripour. The information that customers shared with her, combined with spending hours in fitting rooms with customers, inspired her to create a new company that can mirror that personal experience for e-commerce.
Fovo, a personalized e-commerce marketplace, launched in beta in April. Founded by Anvaripour and Zappos founder Nick Swinmurn, the biggest difference between Fovo and the other e-commerce marketplaces filling the space is that product pages are tailored for customers according to the shape of their bodies.
“Shape is missing from the top of the purchasing funnel online,” said Anvaripour. “But it’s there at the top of mind when you shop in store. I knew we had to implement that experience for e-commerce.”
Fovo is hoping to join in on the body positivity movement that’s taken off on social media. The company carries sizes up to 32, and doesn’t use labels like “plus size.” The site also has an open forum where members of the marketplace can share reviews, photos and thoughts on new and purchased items.
“Things are changing with the current generation,” said Anvaripour. “We’re embracing curves, thankfully. Size has a stigma, but shape is something to highlight, and we want no labels for women to find something that looks great.”
Other companies like ModCloth have embraced a modern view on women’s clothing sizes: ModCloth follows an “inclusive sizing” pattern that starts at size extra-extra-small and goes up to 4XL. Retailer Sizeable lets women shop according to filters like “tall,” “busty” or “curvy.” But Anvaripour said that Fovo’s appeal is that women can shop the brands they already love, just in a smarter way. However, a plus-size shopper will still be limited by the fact that most brands adhere to straight sizing.
Fovo’s curated product selections follow a personal style algorithm that Anvaripour and Swinmurn, who “is plagued by the question of what’s the next big thing in e-commerce,” developed over the course of two years. When you enter the site, you’re asked five questions: what body part you most like to show off, your workday and weekend styles, which celebrity’s body type is most similar to your own, and current measurements, preferred fits, and garment sizes.
After that, Fovo puts together an automated product assortment, as well as styling tips and other relevant content, tailored to the customer. Items can also be filtered using a budget limit, as products are pulled in from partnering brands that are both low-cost, like Forever 21 and high-end, like Diane Von Furstenberg. Fovo takes a cut of each purchase made through the site.
Each product page comes with the usual e-commerce staples like product description, information and an option to save it to a wish list or share on social. Anvaripour said that a “Why this?” section sets Fovo apart from regular e-commerce.
“Each item comes with a ‘why this’ explainer. We tell you why a certain item works for a body type like yours, why we picked it, as well as how to wear it,” she said.
“The more mature you get as a woman, the more you know what works for you and what doesn’t,” said Jessica Navas, chief planning officer at Erwin Penland. “If you put in some effort in the beginning, like through a quiz, you’ll be a smarter shopper off the bat. It helps that it’s backed by Zappos — people will associate really easy shipping and returns with a new brand.”
“With Zappos, we consistently focused on optimizing the experience for customers. The more info the better. With Fovo, we take it a big step further with personalization,” said Swinmurn.