Next level fashion sustainability to satisfy a $120bn opportunity with Camilla Olsen (episode 335)

Camilla was a VC in the ’80s, then she founded two predictive modelling companies in biopharma (one with a $95M buyout one year after launch, and the other is the basis of CERTARA which IPO’d again Dec 2020 and quickly rose to a $4B valuation). She then earned an MFA (that’s a masters in fine arts) in fashion design, and ran her own ecommerce label for five years. Most recently she’s founded the inclusive fashion company, Savitude, who are helping fashion designers solve the fit, return, and excess inventory problems by providing Enhanced Sketching using AI Design Intelligence.

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The Savitude Story

Savitude was, like  many great businesses, an accident. Camilla was in Bio Pharma for many years but eventually became tired of the industry.

She was in the process of retiring when she took her daughter, who was considering a career in fashion, to see an open house at a San Francisco design school thinking it would dissuade her daughter from the business. In the end, her daughter ended up pursuing finance, and Camila ended up getting an MFA from that design school.

Her interest in fashion bloomed during the dot com era — when she had developed a bit of Chanel habit. After the bust, she tried to replicate the types of clothes she loved with little success.

When she started school, she thought she’d just take some classes to learn sewing techniques, but ended up doing really well and running her own label. Eventually, she became more interested in the huge waste associated with not paying enough attention to body variety. 

Industry Waste

Savitude came from a recognition of the huge waste in fashion and Camilla’s background in computer modeling.

She gathered a team and built an enormous 40,000K+ component database growing all the time with more inputs from AI. The system is extraordinary, taking into consideration more than 700 body types.

Once this database and associated tools were built, the team released a self-evaluation product (quiz) for customers to find their own body type and best silhouettes.

For industry partners, they created a robust intelligence database that could help identify potential waste and deficits for buyers. The outcomes were huge. 

Despite the fact that only 15% of people elected to take the quiz, businesses who used it saw an 11% lift in sales.

Underserved Bodies

Camilla says that upwards of 40% of women’s body types aren’t represented in fashion and manufacturing.

Besides the missed opportunity business-wise, Camilla believes strongly that having such a huge proportion of women not feel good about themselves has all sorts of peripheral social impacts.

Her own research has revealed that between 45%-50% of women hate shopping when asked. When asked if they’d like to have a hand in designing their own clothes to correct for body shape, 83% of women said they would. 

Starting with Luxury Leaders

Camilla had the idea to work with the luxury fashion community because that’s where fashion originates. She has spent a lot of time engaging with that community to understand better how they feel about body inclusivity.

She emphasizes that she needed to understand the psychology driving that business so that someday she could better persuade them to incorporate the ideas that Savitude is democratizing. 

Camilla recently did a research project that analyzed hundreds runway outfits from a single season and matched each one for best fit with the Savitude body database. 

What they found was what Camilla calls the Inclusion Gap, that is the undersupply of looks for several body shapes vs. the oversupply of looks for certain body shapes.

When she ran the math, she found that there is a $120 Billion dollar market opportunity for the underserved body types. The oversupply is going into the landfills.

Basically — there is too much choice for some body shapes and too little for others. 

Marginalized Shapes

Some women’s body shapes are completely neglected by the existing market.

Wide shoulders, diamond shapes, and more have few to no options available to them.One way that Savitude is engaging with the fashion community today is by helping buyers become more balanced.

Savitude’s dashboard can analyze any buy that retailers are considering and give them a display of where they are overwrought or underbought to make sure they balance their buy. She hopes to continue growing the knowledge base and is working with IEEe, an Industrial Group about opening the technology up in an effort to gather even more data.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Get your customers to have a say in guiding your product descriptions, definition, design and development

Tool Top Tip

Growth Top Tip

  • Stop doing everything else, and pay attention to what’s happening right this minute. 

Interview Links

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