Add “shift dress” to my list of #bustgirlgoals.
When it comes to finding clothing that actually fits, the struggle is real.
The sheer number of female-owned specialized online clothing companies is a testimony to how frustrated shoppers have been. Instead of using the internet to find cat videos and unauthorized downloads of ’90s cartoons like normal people, we buy clothes without even trying them on in person.
And it’s all worth it. Because every time we sacrificed our hard-earned cash to the Fashion Gods, the industry noticed. Every year, new companies offering a specialized fit arise, often generating a devoted fanbase in the process.
Among them is KIT, a spanking-new, U.S.-based company that creates gorgeous, classic pieces customized to their customers’ specific body shapes.
I had the pleasure of meeting the ladies of KIT at a recent pop-up event in Greenwich, CT. To learn more about what KIT is doing to address diverse body types, I spoke with Natalie Christopher, the Director of Customer Experience.
Tell us about KIT, and what role you play in this company.
Kit is a dressmaker for the digital era.
We have thrown out the arbitrary vanity sizing chart and built a unique fit algorithm to make clothing that fits. Kit was inspired from a love of women, fashion, and a bit of despair about the options out there for women. Fed up with the poor clothing options out there, Merin, the Founder, built Kit to be a new type of clothing company that empowers women.
My unique role is the Director of Customer Experience. I focus on the outward elements of the company while working closely with Merin to build internal company systems to improve the customer’s experience.
What is the best piece of customer feedback you’ve received since launching?
A customer wrote us this email:
“Moment of brilliance as I sit under the dryer waiting on the foils to dry at the salon. Wondering if you’ve overlooked a slogan opportunity……
“Kit’s the shit!”
And the best piece of constructive criticism?
“Fix the website.”
As we grew, the ecommerce platform we chose couldn’t grow with us. We kept trying to strap new things to the side of the already bulky and confusing website. Finally, we sat down and figured out that we had to spend a little and start from scratch. We just launched our new website, and we couldn’t be happier with the user experience and ability to see the customizable options.
How did you determine what information to ask for in the “size you” form?
Before starting the company, Merin became obsessed with measuring women. If she had a chance to talk to you, chances are you would end up being measured. She compiled this information and figured out that vanity sizing misses key elements to a woman’s fit.
I would say first and foremost, our primary and secondary body type elements: pear, hourglass, straight, busty, and apple determine what needs to be adjusted on a dress. Every element of our fit quiz goes into adjusting the pattern and making the dress to fit that customer.
I am legit obsessed with their fabric.
Most specialized clothing companies focus on one body type — plus size, curvy, petite, and so on. You address nearly every body type there is, and offer different fabric options on top of that! Is anyone worried this is too ambitious? How do you control the overhead costs while offering this level of customization?
Everything about launching a business seems ambitious! We manufacture each garment in house after the point of sale. This helps keep our inventory low. Fabric inventory will always be tricky, but we have found and cultivated relationships with fabric vendors to allow us to do small batch orders allowing to maintain a controlled amount of fabric.
You haven’t been around for too long, but would you consider any of your pieces to be “bestsellers”?
Our bestseller to date is The Popover, but it may be given a run for its money this spring with one of our newest styles, The Short Sleeve Shirtdress.
Merin Guthrie: Business owner. Artist. Model.
For that matter, which piece is your personal favorite?
It is so hard to choose. I would say that I wear The Tunic Blouse the most, but my current favorite is The Short Sleeve Shirtdress. I am a get up and go person, so I love that you can throw The Short Sleeve Shirtdress on and look put together.
That is one put-together lady.
Are there any plans to feature models with different body types on the website to give a better idea of how garments fit?
Yes, as a fairly new company we have learned two things. First, it is a challenge to have non-professional models model, and second, professional models are EXPENSIVE. Right now, we love our model who is a normal person with a pear shaped body. That said, as we grow, we would love to increase our budget to have a more inclusive selection of models.
Like a lot of smaller clothing companies, you’ve been marketing through pop-up shops recently. Do you have any stories to share from your most recent cocktail parties?
We learn so much about and from our customers. The biggest thing we find is that women say about their bodies when they are being measured. We actually did a short Instagram series about this. The moment the measuring tape comes out women use all different ways to describe their bodies.
All of your clothing is American-made, which is very rare in this industry. Is the plan to stick with domestic talent no matter how big you get?
It is hard to say what the future holds, but as of right now, yes the plan is to continue to build capacity for manufacturing in Houston, Texas. The good news for us is that Houston has a large number of refugees with seamstress experience.
I’m thrilled that you are designing for different body types, but since this is a blog for busty ladies, what specific structural changes do you make to your clothing in order to accommodate busty figures?
Recently, I spoke to a customer on the phone about this very thing. She is busty, and she ordered our fit & flare. She told me that she has never owned a dress in this style because the seam below the bust never fits over her bust correctly and the hips are always too large. Our Fit and Flare accommodates for both those fit challenges.
Another garment that has received extra love in pattern making for the busty gals out there is The Lady Blouse. We added extra fabric to accommodate for the busty figure to prevent gaping on the front of the blouse.
How can busty shoppers keep in touch with KIT on social media? And are there any upcoming events we should be aware of?
We are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Our final Fit + Flair Pop-ups are in SoCal in mid-May and Chicago in early June.
If you live in those areas, I highly recommend following Kit on social media and going to their pop-up. Even if you don’t order anything, the Kit ladies are very knowledgeable about their industry and an absolute delight to talk to.
A big thanks to Natalie for answering all of my questions. I look forward to reviewing my first Kit garment soon.