Fashion tech startup Hemster launches first on-demand tailoring service; closes $4M post-seed funding led by Bullpen Capital
Just about 20 years ago, buying clothing online was unheard of. Now, with the arrival of mobile apps, buying custom clothing online is now a commonplace. Now online sites like iTailor provides tailors’ measurements and create custom suits, shirts, shoes and every other item of menswear. What is currently missing is the on-demand tailoring service. Enter Hemster, a fashion tech startup which provides a personal tailoring service that empowers customers to create their own size, no matter where they shop.
Today, Hemster announced the it has launched the first on-demand tailoring service that enables retailers and brands to offer a more personalized customer experience, drive in-store conversion and reduce returns. In addition, the San Francisco, California-based Hemster announced that it has raised $4 million in post-seed funding to launch in new markets nationwide, expand its team and scale its operations. The round, which brings the total funding to date to $5 million, was led Bullpen Capital, with participation from Hustle Fund, Oyster Ventures, The Fund and FJ Labs.
Founded in 2015 by Allison Lee, the New York-based Hemster is the first on-demand tailoring service that helps people find the perfect fit when and where they want. The company’s network of master fitters and stylists offer a range of alterations services that consumers can access in participating retailers’ and brands’ stores or through at-home appointments. Each Hemster customer’s perfect fit data are collected the first time the customer uses the service and kept on file, so the customer can conveniently shop at any participating retailer or brand and not have to take new measurements each time they purchase a garment. The data also allow participating retailers and brands to recommend the closest size for each shopper, based on the shopper’s perfect fit measurements.
I grew up in South Korea, where shoppers typically find the correct size based on weight first and where tailoring is expected, even with budget options,” said Hemster CEO and Founder Allison Lee. “In the US, shoppers very often have to choose from small, medium and large sizes, but those sizes don’t fit almost 90% of people. I founded Hemster to make it simple, convenient and cost-effective for US consumers to solve the fit problem, while giving brands a new, scalable way to provide excellent service to customers. We’re extremely pleased to now be partnering with this group of investors, who will be key to our strategic expansion into new markets.”
Hemster enables retailers and brands to offer customers tailoring services in-store, driving conversion and traffic at both the initial fitting and 48 hours later, when the garment is ready for pickup. The company’s network of tailors each specialize in certain kinds of garments and alterations, making them four to five times more productive than is typical in the industry. Customers shopping online at participating retailers and brands can also schedule a personal in-home fitting with a Hemster tailor or use the company’s patent-pending RulerStickerTM to mark garments they have purchased and then either drop them off in-store for tailoring or have them picked up from their home.
Diane von Furstenberg, Outdoor Voices and Alo Yoga are among the first brands to offer Hemster’s services to their customers. “It’s critical for us, as a retailer, to continue to implement features and services that help enhance our consumer’s life: the woman who is in charge, busy, and needs an unparalleled one-stop experience,” said Sandra Campos, CEO of Diane von Furstenberg. “Hemster provides the perfect solution in offering a custom fit, and we are excited to partner with them at DVF.”
“Bespoke tailoring is one of the world’s oldest professions, but the industry hasn’t seen a radical update in decades,” said Paul Martino, General Partner at Bullpen Capital. “We invested in Hemster because of the unique opportunity they’re giving retailers and brands to connect with their customers. Their ‘perfect fit’ data holds massive potential for traditional retailers, e-commerce DTC players and marketplaces alike, who all crave new and personal touchpoints with their customers.”
The company has attracted a number of prominent retail and technology industry experts as advisors, including Pano Anthos, Founder of XRC Labs; Karen Katz, former CEO of Neiman Marcus; Stacey Widlitz, President of SW Retail Advisors and CNBC retail analyst; Ephraim Luft, former Chief Product Officer at Farfetch; Katie Hunt, co-founder and CRO of Showfields; and Jenny Fielding, Managing Director of Techstars.