Stitch Fix Review: Why I Returned Everything in the Box. Twice.

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The boredom economy finally led me to review Stitch Fix. I wound up returning everything in the boxes. Twice. Here’s why.

Why I (finally) tried Stitch Fix

For years, I resisted trying out Stitch Fix and competitors like Trunk Club, Wantable, Bombfell and Amazon’s Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe.

I’m particular about my clothes and had plenty of opportunities to browse and buy directly from online brands and brick-and-mortar shops.

But recently, stuck at home for almost a year, I decided that I needed new wardrobe options.

Read on to learn more about Stitch Fix, how the service works, and why I decided to order another box even though the first one wasn’t a screaming success. (And why I returned everything in the second box as well.)

Also see for my in-depth review of alternatives to Stitch Fix for more options.

About Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix is an excellent example of the kind of direct-to-consumer ecommerce company helping women and men dress sharp in the digital age.

The mission of Stitch Fix is “to change the way people find clothes they love by combining technology with the personal touch of seasoned style experts.”

Their promise is that the experience “is not merely curated—it’s truly personalized to you.”

That personalization relies fundamentally on gathering a lot of data together combined with human judgement.

In its initial public offering filing with the SEC, Stitch Fix describes its reliance on data science:

Our data science capabilities consist of our rich data set and our proprietary algorithms… The vast majority of our client data is provided directly and explicitly by the client, rather than inferred, scraped or obtained from other sources. We also gather extensive merchandise data, such as inseam, pocket shape, silhouette and fit. This large and growing data set provides the foundation for proprietary algorithms that we use throughout our business, including those that predict purchase behavior, forecast demand, optimize inventory and enable us to design new apparel.

Stitch Fix Form S-1 Registration Statement, 19 October 2017

The Stitch Fix data system then spits out recommendations, from which stylists select merchandise to send to customers.

In practice, what that means is that Stitch Fix will send you a box of clothes upon request, or at regular intervals, which aims to match your style and fit preferences.

Stitch Fix began by curating clothing for women back in 2011, originally under the name “Rack Habit.” In September 2016, Stitch Fix added menswear. In July 2018, the company launched Stitch Fix kids, which allows adults to request Fixes for children.

Stitch Fix Founders

Katrina Lake and Erin Morrison Flynn co-founded Stitch Fix. (The company was originally incorporated under the name Rack Habit on February 11, 2011.)

Katrina Lake, Founder and CEO

Lake has served as CEO and the public face of the company since its inception, leading the company through its 2017 IPO.

Writing in Forbes, Ryan Mac chronicles Lake’s childhood in San Francisco, then Minnesota. She attended college at Stanford and joined the strategy consulting firm The Parthenon Group. She went to Harvard Business School with the goal of building Stitch Fix while there.

Inc. labelled Lake “one of the smartest founders to emerge in e-commerce.”

Erin Flynn, Co-Founder

Flynn, a former direct merchant for J. Crew, is a graduate of the University of Virginia. She is listed as a co-founder on her LinkedIn page and in Stitch Fix’s SEC filing, but “has been scrubbed from most company records.”

On the Rack Habit website hosted on the Blogspot platform (still live as of February 24, 2021), Flynn was listed as the the company’s “chief merchant.” A post describes Flynn as “responsible for making the creative decisions that shape not only Rack Habit as a company, but also what’s inside the Rack Habit packages!”

According to an SEC filing by Stitch Fix, Flynn left the company in 2012.

Flynn filed a State Civil Lawsuit against Stitch Fix, Erin Morrison Flynn v. Stitch Fix, Inc. Et Al, in the Superior Court of California, describing herself as “co-founder, Secretary, Chief Merchandising Officer (“CMO”), and a board member of the Board of Directors” of Stitch Fix. The lawsuit alleged breach of contract, termination in violation of bylaws, and retaliation and failure to pay wages earned, among other causes.

The lawsuit was settled in 2014.

Stitch Fix Coupon

Get a $25 discount at Stitch Fix when you check out your first purchase.

How does Stitch Fix work?

Here’s how Stitch Fix works:

Take a style quiz

First, start by taking a style quiz on Stitch Fix’s website. During the quiz, you will answer a series of questions including:

  • How do you feel about shopping?
  • How much time & effort do you put into getting the right look?
  • How often do you try out the latest styles & trends?
  • What are the reasons you’re excited to try Stitch Fix?
  • Which outfits would you wear? (Pick from a series of photos.)
  • What brands do you typically shop?
  • How much do you typically spend on items from these categories?
  • How often do you wear casual clothing / workout gear / going-out pieces / business casual?
  • What is your work dress code?
  • Do you have any fit challenges?

During the quiz, you hand over a lot of personal information. (In fact, Stitch Fix collects “90+ meaningful data points” through the initial style quiz alone.)

Stitch Fix prompts you to enter your date of birth, height and weight. You also are asked about what sizes you typically wear for items like shirts, blazers, pants, and outerwear, how you would describe your body type, and how you like your clothing to fit.

Schedule your first “Fix”

After finishing your style quiz, Stitch Fix matches you with the more than 5,600 personal stylists they work with to start your style journey.

Then it’s time to book your first Fix.

You can subscribe to have Stitch Fix boxes delivered on a regular schedule, though you do not have to.

Stitch Fix subscriptions

As a default option, Stitch Fix prompts customers to schedule a new box from Stitch Fix for delivery every 2-3 weeks, every month, every other month or every 3 months.

You can schedule a Stitch Fix manually

Stitch Fix also allows you to schedule your deliveries manually. You can schedule one Fix at a time.

I like that you do not have to commit to any reoccurring delivery or subscription, and that you can choose to have your next box delivered in as soon as a week or for another date later on the calendar.

It’s nice to get clothing delivered on your own schedule.

Try on your clothing (quickly!)

When your Fix arrives, don’t let it sit around.

How long do you have to return items from your Stitch Fix box?

You only have three days to send back the items that you don’t want to keep before Stitch Fix charges your credit card.

This short turnaround window is feature, not a bug, of Stitch Fix. As Stitch Fix emphasizes to investors, the three day check-out window for customers helps “drive[ ] rapid inventory turns.”

In comparison, Trunk Club gives you five days to return items you do not wish to keep. Wantable also gives customers five days to return selections.

That said, Stitch Fix allows you to request an extension of your try-on period online.

When I ordered my second box, I realized I had the option of extending my return period for 16 days past its original due date, giving me nearly three weeks to try out my Fix.

Return the items you don’t wish to keep.

Each box includes a postage-paid return envelope. Pack the items you wish to return into the envelope, and return it as directed.

I have to admit, when I received my first box, I didn’t realize you only had 3 days to turn it back around or request an extension. I’m glad I opened it on the third day, but it left me with very little time to evaluate the clothing before getting it back out into the mail to meet the deadline.

How much does Stitch Fix cost?

Stitch Fix charges a $20 “styling fee” every time your stylist sends out a box. That $20 styling fee is not refundable, though it will be applied to offset the cost of any item you choose to keep from your box (aka Fix).

If you are likely to keep at least one item from each Fix, the styling fee isn’t an issue since it will reduce the cost you pay for your clothing.

If you are planning to use Stitch Fix to try out different looks and outfits but don’t plan to keep the items they send you regularly, know that you will be paying $20 per Fix for the privilege.

To me, that seems like a fair deal, given the shipping costs involved getting your Fix to and from your home.

Do you get advance notice of what the cost will be?

Stitch Fix customers receive an invoice detailing the cost for each item with the box they receive. Once your Fix ships, you can preview your fix by going to Stitch Fix’s order review page.

Stitch Fix Review: Does it deliver a “truly personalized experience?”

So does Stitch Fix deliver a “truly personalized experience” that delights right out of the box?

In a word, no. At least not for me. At least not right away.

But there’s hope.

Initial impressions of my first Stitch Fix box

My initial Fix arrived nicely packaged, and I enjoyed the Christmas morning experience of unwrapping new clothing (selected especially for me!)

Upon closer inspection, though, some of the selections were underwhelming.

Here’s what I received:

01.Algo Knit Blazer, $119

The biggest fail was the “01.Algo Knit Blazer,” a navy blue piece that you could tell was polyester just by touching it.

01.Algo is one of Stitch Fix’s many in-house brands. Stitch Fix describes the 01.Algo brand as a “Scandinavian inspired menswear brand” that “is modern, crisp and minimal with a focus on a smarter wardrobe.”

Confusingly, the tag on the blazer was for the brand “Artefact” but the brand was listed as “01.Algo” on the invoice. Stitch Fix’s U.S. and UK websites use variously use both names to refer to what appears to be the same items of clothing.

I found the blazer, which came in a size “small” rather than more granular suiting sizing, to be bulky and ill-fitting. There also appeared to be a stain on the right lapel.

At a cost of $119, the blazer was easy to reject out of hand. The idea of paying more than a C-note for a polyester blazer made me wince.

To put this piece in perspective, You can find polyester navy blazers at Asos for around $65, at Uniqlo for under $70, and through Amazon Essentials at a much more competitive price. You can also find a natural wool blazer at Everlane for under $200 as well as Massimo Dutti.

This was a complete fail.

Fairlane Dorian Merino Wool V Neck Sweater, $70

Next my eyes fell on a black and grey flecked merino wool sweater from Fairlane, another Stitch Fix house brand for men and women.

Stitch Fix characterizes the Fairlane brand as “contemporary takes on the classics” for the “cultivated man.”

It just wasn’t my style, and easy to reject with a hefty price tag of $70.

Again, price was a motivating factor.

It’s real hard to stomach paying $70 when you can often find merino wool sweaters at Quince for under $30, on sale at Banana Republic for around $35, on sale at Bonobos for as low as $38, on sale at J. Crew for under $40 and on sale at Bloomingdales for about $40.

Even Tide Myles Coastal Doublecloth Shirt, $60

The other three pieces of clothing had potential, starting with an grid-pattern shirt from Even Tide, another Stitch Fix house brand.

According to Stitch Fix:

Even Tide brings the vacation to your closet with a mix of coastal colors and mid-century modern inspired lines. Think easy fits, soft fabrics and hues inspired by the sea.

Get to Know Our Stitch Fix Men Exclusive Brands

At $60, the shirt wasn’t outrageously expensive, but I decided it was ho-hum, and the soft collar was a little droopy, so it went back too.

Jack Maverick Grayson Dress Shirt, $98

I had a hard time figuring out whether Jack Maverick was a house brand of Stitch Fix. There isn’t a lot of information available online about the brand.

I finally found a skeleton of a website for the brand (which I’m not going to link to here because it’s not a secure website). It appears the Jack Maverick Trademark is owned by Jeremy Argyle LLC, which makes colorful shirts for men.

I liked the look of this shirt, with its dark blue and black small checks.

All-in-all, it was a decently-soft and understated 100% cotton shirt but, given that it was close enough in look to a shirt that I already owned from Proper Cloth, I decided I wouldn’t drop $98 on it.

Liverpool Bolt Relaxed Straight Jean, $89

I came closest to keeping a pair of jeans from Liverpool. I enjoyed getting to know Liverpool, a brand I hadn’t come across before, thanks to Stitch Fix.

Liverpool’s grey-brown jeans that Stitch Fix sent were nice, and would have filled a need in my wardrobe had I not received a pair of washed grey jeans from Dearborn Denim for Christmas. At $89, the jeans were competitively priced (though I would note that Dearborn’s made-in-the-USA denim jeans cost less at $75).

Reviewing my first Stitch Fix

The truth is that none of the items from my first Fix delighted or impressed me enough to keep. I returned everything.

I enjoyed the discovery process more than I thought I would. It was definitely nice to unwrap and try on new clothing. I haven’t browsed much clothing in person lately, and I reveled in the ability to touch fabrics, inspect colors up close and try on the clothing I received.

The biggest caution for me was the relatively high prices of several of the items in my Fix compared to what is available online. There weren’t any bargains among the items that I received. It was also curious that some of the highest priced items, like the polyester blazer, were from Stitch Fix house brands which presumably are higher margin items for the company than third party offerings.

At first, I wasn’t sure whether I would want to repeat the process. But then two things occurred to me:

  1. Stitch Fix provided two items of clothing that I might have considered keeping had I not already owned similar items. That’s pretty impressive.
  2. The reality is that nobody should expect Stitch Fix to nail your fit or style preferences based on one initial questionnaire.

I gave my measurements and a couple of fit and style preferences and (unrealistically, I suppose) expected to be delighted by every single piece in the box.

So I signed up for a second Fix from the company.

But, before I did, I took some steps to further tailor the experience.

Here’s what you can do to improve your chances for a Fix that matches your style and fit preferences:

Photo credit: by David Lezcano via Unsplash

How to improve future Fixes

Is it possible to train Stitch Fix to get closer to your style and fit preferences?

Stitch Fix is all about the data. The more pieces of information you can provide about your likes, dislikes and immediate needs, the more likely the box you receive from Stitch Fix will delight you.

In retrospect, it’s no surprise that the first box I received fell flat. The great promise of Stitch Fix is that, over time, the service matches clothing with greater precision to your preferences.

Stitch Fix offers multiple ways to hone your style preferences for future orders:

Adjust your preferences in your profile

When you take your style quiz for the first time, you can indicate categories of items that you never want to receive from Stitch Fix.

You can choose to never receive items from entire categories like Button-Down Collar shirts, Ties, Short Sleeve Button-Ups, Graphic T-Shirts, V-Neck Shirts, Coats & Jackets, Blazers, Tank Tops, Belts, Pants, Denim, Shorts, Socks, and Shoes.

You can also specify specific patterns (plaid, stripes, floral, etc.), colors (pink, yellow, blue, grey, etc.) and types of shoes (boots, sandals, boat shoes, etc.) that you never want your stylist to send.

You can fine tune these settings in your profile on the Stitch Fix website to make sure you are only receiving certain categories and styles of clothing.

Feedback to your stylist

Customers also have the option of writing a note to their Stitch Fix stylist when requesting an individual style box shipment (aka a Fix) to indicate specific pieces or styles they would like to receive or refrain from receiving.

I sent my stylist a note when I ordered my second fix, asking for a couple of different categories of clothing that I’ve been looking to identify. (More on that below.)

Style Shuffle

You can also log onto Stitch Fix’s website daily to play their “Style Shuffle,” which is a little like Tinder for your closet. You can give a thumbs up or thumbs down to a series of items of clothing, which can help refine the algorithm.

Reviewing my second Stitch Fix

After adjusting my preferences in my Stitch Fix profile, playing a number of rounds of the Style Shuffle, and sending a note to my stylist, I figured I had done all I could do to maximize my chances for a successful second Fix.

Sadly, my second Fix didn’t produce any keepers either. Here’s what happened:

Note to my Stitch Fix stylist

Before scheduling my second Stitch Fix, I wrote this note to my stylist:

Hi, I’m looking for a couple of very specific things that I was hoping you might be able to help with:

1. A tagless, 100% cotton v-neck t shirt in a heathered or light color… (Alternately a crew neck t-shirt with the same specifications.)
2. A chore coat.
3. Cozy sweatpants with a working fly (e.g. a button, zip or velcro fly).

If you can help, that’s great. If not, I look forward to seeing what you come up with…

Chore coat

The stylist came closest to fulfilling my second request, for a chore coat.

The absolute best piece I received was a heavy, wool-nylon blend shirt jacket from Stitch Fix’s house brand Eventide. It fit well in the shoulders and was the correct sleeve length. But it was snug in the arms, which means I couldn’t throw it on over another long sleeve shirt to wear outside. At $178, it was also pricey, so I declined.

Stitch Fix also sent another “chore jacket” option from Marc Jacobs, which fell flat. The snap closure was weird and sleeves and shoulders way too long. (The sleeves were a good 2 inches too long for my arms.) It too went back in the return pile.

Cozy pants

Frankly, I didn’t expect Stitch Fix to be able to source joggers or sweatpants with a working fly opening. Very few companies make sweatpants with a working fly. But I was interested to see how they responded to the request.

Instead of sweatpants, I received a pair of Clifton Slim Fit Pants from 7Diamonds. The suede-like texture was soft and comfortable, though they didn’t fulfil my need for sweatpants. At $88, I didn’t feel the need to keep them, so back they went.

T-shirts

The most frustrating part of my second experience was how much Stitch Fix missed the mark when it came to my request for a tagless, 100% cotton v-neck t shirt or crewneck shirt.

Rather than send me a 100% cotton t-shirt, they opted to send two performance fabric shirts despite the fact that Stitch Fix has several tagless, 100% cotton t-shirts in its inventory in my size that I could purchase a la carte via its shop feature.

The v-neck t-shirt that was sent from Stitch Fix house brand 01.Algo shirt was made from recycled plastic bottles. When I put it on I felt like, well, that I was wearing a plastic bottle. Sure, the texture is smooth and silky, but give me a 100% cotton shirt any day over this thing.

Stitch Fix also sent over a triblend v-neck t-shirt from Threads 4 Thought. Not only was the shirt not 100% cotton (instead, it was a rayon, poly, and cotton blend), but it also wasn’t tagless.

This despite the fact that Stitch Fix lists on its website a Flag and Anthem Sean Heathered Vee and Grenwich Crewneck Tee, an Even Tide Zack Vintage Wash Vee and a Hawker Rye Essential Spacedye Vee Tee in my size. Any one of these options would have fulfilled my request perfectly.

I’m completely baffled why the company would choose to send me items that didn’t come close to fulfilling my request when they appear to have several options that do.

Which clothing labels does Stitch Fix carry?

Stitch Fix carries more than 100 well-known and fashion startup brand names alongside a number of private label brands.

Stitch Fix carries third party brands including Johnnie-O, Girlfriend Collective, Beyond Yoga, LNA, mavi, NYDJ, Rails, Vuori, Threads 4 Thought, Primary.com, Nike, Under Armour, Hurley, New Balance, Hatley, Joules, Adidas, Chaser Brand, Tom’s, Alice and Olivia, John Varvatos, Joie, Sam Edelman, Dolce Vita, Equipment, Sperry, Kate Spade New York, Theory, Free People, City Chic, Stance, Trina Turk, Rebecca Minkoff, Cole Haan, Addition Elle, and Flag and Anthem.

Stitch Fix carries a ton of denim brands including: J Brand, Madewell, Paige, DL1961, Good American, Frame, tgla, STS Blue, Another Love, Just USA, 1822 Denim, Lakeview Denim, Tinsel, Cosmic Blue Love, NYDJ, Kut From The Cloth, Lila Ryan, Level99, Liverpool, Just Black, Mother, Hudson, Rag & Bone, Black Orchid, AG Adriano Goldschmied, Joe’s Jeans and WARP + WEFT.

Stitch Fix private label brands

In addition to stocking innovative and popular third party brands, Stitch Fix maintains a variety of private labels.

Stitch Fix private labels for men

Stitch Fix’s private label brands for men include:

  • Hawker Rye
  • 01.Algo
  • A-Frame
  • Alesbury
  • Bixby Nomad
  • Even Tide
  • Fairlane
  • Fairlane & Sons
  • Red Ale
  • Rye

Stitch Fix private labels for women

Stitch Fix’s private label brands for men include:

  • 41 Hawthorn
  • Brixon Ivy
  • Fairlane
  • Market & Spruce
  • Mauvette
  • Mix by 41 Hawthorn
  • Pixley
  • Truly Poppy

Alternatives to Stitch Fix

There are several companies like Stitch Fix that also provide curated shop-from-home experiences and personal styling:

  1. Nordstrom’s Trunk Club is a direct competitor to Stitch Fix. Similar to Stitch Fix, Trunk Club provides a curated selection of clothing for men or women designed to match your personal style and fit preferences. Start by taking Trunk Club’s style quiz.
  2. Wantable is a personal styling service that sends personalized selections of clothing for women and men. Women can choose to have a “style edit” or an activewear “edit,” while men can receive activewear only.
  3. Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe is Amazon’s foray into personalized styling. It is Amazon’s latest move to further develop its prime fashion wardrobe brands for men and women. Last I checked, you can only initiate this service via Amazon’s mobile app.
  4. Birchbox specializes in beauty and subscription boxes for women delivered monthly;
  5. Bombfell was a subscription-based personal styling service for men, which announced it would close in 2020.

At this point, after two complete misses, I’m ready to explore some alternatives to Stitch Fix.

Stitch Fix login

Looking to log into Stitch Fix? Head over to Stitch Fix’s login page and enter in the email address and password that you used to sign up.

(If you can’t recall your Stitch Fix login, remember that Stitch Fix allows you to sign in with your Apple, Facebook or Google credentials, so you may have gone that route.)

If you don’t have a Stitch Fix account, you can sign up for one and take their style quiz to get started.

Stitch Fix stock

Stitch Fix is a publicly-traded company following its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on November 17, 2017. Stitch Fix is traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange under ticker SFIX. The company maintains a useful investor portal with links to investor presentations, quarterly earnings reports and calls, press releases and event webcasts.

In December 2020, Stitch Fix surprised investors by reporting a profit of 9 cents per share on the strength of revenue that increased 10% year-on-year and 3.8 million active clients, causing the stock to jump more than 30% in after hours trading.

Stitch Fix stock reached an all-time high of $106.41 on January 27, 2021 in the wake of Poshmark’s impressive stock market debut. Stitch Fix stock declined by more than half from its high in January to April, hitting $46.22 on April 27, 2021.

Have you tried Stitch Fix?

Share your experience in the comments below.


About Jake

Jake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age.  Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.

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