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Fitiquette: A Virtual Fitting Room at Your E-Service

(l-r): Fitiquette co-founders Anant Kumar and Andy Pandharikar. (Fitiquette photo)
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    Finding clothes that fit can be challenging, especially when various clothing brands have different ways to label sizes in the fashion industry. 

    After brainstorming ideas and contemplating the challenges of the fashion trade, two entrepreneurs, Andy Pandharikar and Anant Kumar, developed a technology that would allow fashion customers to try on outfits in a virtual 3-D world based on the user’s exact body dimensions. 

    The accurate and personalized input from users enables shoppers to “try on” as many garments as possible as they want at home, minimizing time spent at a store. 
    “We were speculating about the future of shopping and realized that while everyone bought books and electronics online, most people we knew never bought clothes online,” Pandharikar told India-West.
    “It was soon obvious during the discussion that the most important piece in the puzzle was missing: the ability to try clothes online,” he added. 
    In October 2010, the two Indian Americans launched Fitiquette, an online platform that allows users to input clothing sizes, body types and preferred shopping brands to find the best “fit” using a rotating model.
    “Fitiquette is an online destination to try on and shop for the latest fashion. It utilizes a patent-pending technology that gives users a 360-degree view of the fit and drape of a garment on their actual body dimensions,” Kumar explained to India-West. 
    The co-founders never thought that fashion would be their career choice. Pandharikar told this reporter that his first encounter with fashion was an accident. In Mumbai, he helped a family friend sell Italian belts and other clothing on Mumbai’s well-known Fashion Street. This led to his interest in merging his love for technology with his flair for entrepreneurship.
    Kumar, Fitiquette’s chief technology officer, was first exposed to fashion during his college days at the Indian Institute of Delhi, where he printed and sold T-shirts at a college festival. “Much like Andy, I did not realize that would be my calling two decades later,” Kumar told India-West. 
    The idea of creating a virtual fitting room has been talked about since e-commerce began, the former Cisco Systems employees said. 
    After researching the nascent online clothing purchase sector and its high return rates, the entrepreneur duo found that many companies had never fully tackled the challenging idea of allowing consumers to “fit” clothes online. The lack of programs featuring 3-D models and personalized data from users were key ingredients missing from the puzzle. 
    Pandharikar and Kumar said no webcams or complicated programs are needed. Once a user is registered on the site, a portal will guide a customer through a three-step process. 
    Fitiquette differs from other virtual fitting rooms due to its ability to incorporate a 3-D model. Other sites, by contrast, paste images of clothes onto a 2-D image of a model, they said. 
    Fitiquette is currently working with contemporary clothing brands such as Free People, FACTORY by Erik Hart, BB Dakota and Dolce Vita. 
    The company has also partnered with well-known San Francisco designers Harputs OWN and Saffron Rare Threads and hopes to partner with more brands and retailers in the future. 
    The two entrepreneurs explained that with their technology, coupled with current trends in the industry, more individuals are inclined to shop for clothes online because it is convenient, affordable and saves a lot of time. 
    “Social shopping tools are offering better discoverability and recommendations as well as fast price comparisons for shoppers to buy online,” asserted Kumar. 
    The site, which is currently free, has been in invite-only beta for the past three months and has attracted over 10,000 fans on Facebook. 
    “Our immediate goal is to enable shoppers to find fashion that fits them, online. We see this as the first step in fulfilling our mission to personalize online fashion shopping,” said the co-founders.
    “The future is not too far when designers will tailor fashion to their customer’s preferences and dimensions and instantly deliver products that fit perfectly. We are sure that Fitiquette is going to a play a major role in shaping the future,” they added. 
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