Why I (finally) tried Stitch Fix
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.
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, 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.
That said, Stitch Fix allows you to request an extension of your try-on period online. 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 second Fix.
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.”
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. 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:
- Stitch Fix provided two items of clothing that I might have considered keeping had I not already owned similar items. That’s pretty impressive.
- 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:
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.
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.
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
- Bixby Nomad
- Even Tide
- Fairlane & Sons
- Red Ale
Stitch Fix private labels for women
Stitch Fix’s private label brands for men include:
- 41 Hawthorn
- Brixon Ivy
- Market & Spruce
- Mix by 41 Hawthorn
- Truly Poppy
Alternatives to Stitch Fix
There are several alternatives to Stitch Fix that also provide curated shop-from-home experiences and personal styling:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Birchbox specializes in beauty and subscription boxes for women delivered monthly;
- Bombfell was a subscription-based personal styling service for men, which announced it would close in 2020.
Explore even more companies like 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 on January 27, 2021 in the wake of Poshmark’s impressive stock market debut.
Have you tried Stitch Fix?
Share your experience in the comments below.
About JakeJake 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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