Online personal styling service Stitch Fix is continuing to expand beyond its core subscription fashion service into direct buying with the launch of Freestyle, a personalized shopping experience that allows anyone to buy items anytime without being a current subscriber.
While the company made its name with what was at the time (back in 2011) an innovative subscription service model — clients receive regularly scheduled boxes, a.k.a. Fixes, of items selected by algorithms and human stylists based on their profile and feedback — concerns about scalability and increasing competition have slowly pushed the ecommerce retailer toward more traditional sales models. In late 2019, the company first introduced a direct buy option, called Shop Your Look, for existing subscribers.
“If you imagine a future for Stitch Fix, it’s one where many clients may want to join for the ‘fix’ experience and then shop, and where others may want to start with the shopping experience without beginning with a fix,” the company’s then President and now CEO Elizabeth Spaulding told Fortune in 2020 about the company’s direct buy option. “This is a foray into that chapter of our future.”
Freestyle is the next page of that chapter. The new offering expands direct buy to non-clients, making it possible for the first time ever for anyone to purchase items directly from Stitch Fix without ordering a Fix first.
Described in the company announcement as an “evolution of our service,” Stitch Fix Freestyle offers customers a personalized online shopping feed ,with products curated based on the same details as the original Fix offering, including Style Profile inputs, size, fit and style preferences. Because the experience — which is available now for U.S. shoppers both online and in the Stitch Fix app — is personalized on a per-user basis, no two Stitch Fix Freestyle experiences are the same. Items refresh frequently throughout the day as inventory updates, and unlike with the company’s subscription service there is no styling fee. Shipping, returns and exchanges are also free, with no minimum order requirement.
In addition to opening its digital doors to welcome non-subscribers, Freestyle also introduces a number of differentiated ways to shop the Stitch Fix assortment, including:
- Trending for You: personalized recommendations based on the latest trends;
- Complete Your Looks: product recommendations based on pieces a customer has already purchased from Stitch Fix;
- Featured Brands: A personalized collection of the shopper’s favorite brands;
- Categories: Personalized product selections in the shopper’s size across a variety of clothing and accessories categories;
- Shop by Department
- Fresh Finds: trend-based and seasonally led shops; and
- Expert Picks: Coming soon, this category will contain collections curated by an expert with a unique style point of view such as influencers, celebrities, stylists or fellow clients.
The launch of Freestyle comes at a critical moment for the company. Q4 earnings are scheduled to be released after the closing bell on Sept. 21 following prolonged, significant share declines — 42% over the last six months and more than 12% in the last week alone. Despite being part of the winning ecommerce segment during the pandemic, the retailer had to close distribution centers in March 2020 to comply with health orders, and Stitch Fix felt the impact of decreased fashion spending by consumers. The company believes that the direct buy concept gives it a competitive advantage by expanding Stitch Fix’s total addressable market.