New research from Balodana shows impacts of retail clothing fit on powerful market segment of female consumers
(CHICAGO, IL) January 23, 2019 – The founder of Chicago startup Balodana says that the global fashion industry deserves to be disrupted, and she is not surprised that “retailpocalypse” is resulting in massive store closures and stock price impacts for major fashion brands.
“Other industries know that the consumer is in control now, but fashion design and manufacturing has not fully adapted to incorporate consumer feedback and data into its product development,” says Dana Todd, CEO of Balodana. “The combination of insular designer attitudes plus offshoring our intellectual property has left America with a massive problem: we no longer make clothes women can wear, and we no longer have the systems in place to innovate our way out of it.”
Balodana is an online marketplace that aggregates designers and small batch manufacturers of made-to-measure clothing for women. In its research to understand the pain points of the female shopper, Balodana found that one particular demographic was most severely impacted by the failures of fashion manufacturers: women over 35, ironically the most lucrative group of clothing buyers. Prior industry research had held that nearly half of women experience issues with fit, but Balodana’s research on internet shoppers over 35 shows that 75% experience moderate to severe issues finding “off the rack” clothes that fit them and were frustrated by the lack of standardization in sizing. Additionally, 72% said they wear different sizes from brand to brand, even in similar garments.
The problem is systemic, say experts who have studied the issue. Tom Ramunno, Founder and Managing Partner at apparel manufacturing and digital platform company Pleneri, believes the industry is being driven by disruptive new players, and foremost among them are direct-to- consumer marketplaces and custom-made clothing brands.
Ramunno declared, “The reason nothing fits women is because, simply put, the Asian manufacturers co-opted the US and European designs over the course of the last 40-plus years and developed new patterns for a different smaller body type. New, disruptive players are learning how to adapt and improve technologies and methods from other industries that solve similar problems that add new value for consumers through personalization.”
Balodana found that there is a healthy existing demand for custom clothing among these women, with 11% stating they intend to buy a made-to-measure garment within the year, and another 45% who said they would consider it.
Balodana was the 2018 winner of the FUND Conference startup pitch prize in Chicago and launched its prototype marketplace in December with six designers and nearly 1000 garments including bras, daywear and dressy.
Todd says, “We aim to bring back the dressmaker, modernized for today’s busy woman. Our customers have a centralized measurement and style profile that makes ordering across designers easy. Once women learn they can buy a custom-made top for about the same price as Macy’s and it’s guaranteed to fit, there’s no going back to traditional shopping.”