Count women’s wear in that mix with the launch of Bow & Drape. The startup today opened the doors on a site for custom women’s dresses, skirts and jackets.
Similar to Shoes of Prey, users on Bow & Drape can pick a basic style of dress and customize the sleeves, collar, length fabric, trim, color, etc. The Boston-based company constructs the orders in about two weeks in New York. Founder Aubrie Pagano admits this process “is labor intensive” with lower volume, but will become easier with scale as the site can better predict orders and take on more inventory of the styles. “We hope our looks are timeless and seasonless,” she says.
The company takes a page from e-commerce darlings Rent the Runway and Warby Parker, sending women who are unsure about their custom order (they can’t exactly be returned) a muslin prototype of several different styles or sizes to try on before committing to one dress.
It’s too early to know whether this whole bespoke thing is a small niche, or the future of how people shop online. It is clear, however, that e-commerce companies are disrupting brick-and-mortar retailers with innovative business models for shopping online. Right now, traditional retailers look a lot like traditional media did in the early days of the Web. They’re just dumping all their inventory online and assuming the user experience will translate.
Companies like Bonobos appear to be snagging an increasingly large share of the market: the company calls itself the “fastest growing men’s clothing retailer,” with an estimated revenue of $15 million last year. The company has attracted capital from Nordstrom, as well as Accel Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Shoes of Prey has averaged 60% revenue growth per quarter for the past two years, attracting investment from Crunchfund, Southern Cross Venture Partners, Richard Baker, Bill Tai and MLC.
Bow & Drape wants to ride that wave, starting first with a small but fully funded Kickstarter campaign. The company is bootstrapped thus far and raising a bridge round of financing.