Otto + Reid: the 21st century online stylist

  • News
  • August 27, 2015
  • Elly Strang
Otto + Reid: the 21st century online stylist

Co-founders Samantha and Michael Piane moved over from the US one year ago to discover a gaping hole in the New Zealand market.

There was a lack of online subscription models for clothes, unlike in the US, where there are ample clothing curation services, such as Trunk Club, Frank & Oak, LeTote, Stitch Fix and Five Four Club.

One of the best-known services for men, Trunk Club, has been around since 2009.

Luxury department store chain Nordstrom saw the value in it and bought Trunk Club last year for US$350 million.

Samantha Piane first discovered New Zealand didn’t have any clothing subscription services the hard way.

While working in a furniture shop, she plucked up the courage to ask her immaculately dressed Kiwi boss, “What’s your clothing subscription box?”

Her boss was baffled at the term ‘clothing subscription box’ and asked, “What are you talking about?”

Via Pinterest

Not having a clothing subscription service here is a rather gaping hole, Piane says.

There’s the cold, impersonal online shopping experience, or the often busy in-store experience, which doesn’t offer shoppers the one-on-one attention they’re after. She has identified no other in-between.

“We want to be that gap.”

The process of ordering clothes off Otto + Reid is as follows: customers fill out a five to 10 minute survey called a ‘style profile’ that includes the price they want to pay, their tastes in fashion (such as what brands they like and what they wear on the weekends) while getting all the basics down, like size, weight and height.

Then, a stylist curates a selection of outfits that are delivered to the customer’s door and the customer has five days to decide what they like.

Anything they don’t like, they can send back free of charge – and the $40 fee for the subscription box can go towards the items they want.

Michael Piane calls it the Netflix or Pandora of clothing, as if successful, it will disrupt clothing retail in a similar way.

He says though Otto + Reid is a personal styling company, it’s also a tech company, as they want to develop algorithms that help assist the stylist in pinpointing what the customer wants.

“The beauty of the service as you subscribe and keep ordering, it’s going to be more attuned to what you want, as there’s valuable data what you choose what you send back to us,” he says.

“We’re trying to innovate that online retail space and take something that’s a cold experience of just browsing photographs of clothing that might look nice online and bring technology to it to make it more personal.”

The stylist assigned at the start will also be the one the customer keeps for the entirety of their subscription and is just a phone call or email away to make the experience more personal.

The clothing stocked will be exclusively Kiwi brands, making Otto + Reid stand out from the other clothing subscription services in the market overseas.

Piane says retailers who are interested in the idea of their clothes appearing in the boxes should get in touch.

At the moment, he says they’re in talks with some big name brands but can’t disclose them.

The founders themselves don’t come from a fashion background. Michael Piane is a musician and works in The Rock Shop on K Rd by day, while Samantha Piane is a designer.

But Samantha Piane says this makes them the ideal customers.

“We aren’t stylists. We don’t have a background in the fashion industry - obviously I can dress myself in some capacity but looking super professional every day is something I need help with personally,” she says.

“It’s a service that I think is wanted here.”

A crowdfunding campaign for Otto + Reid will be launched on Pledge Me in the near future.

Men’s online retailing is in hot demand, as research firm IbisWorld has found men’s clothing sales soared past typically popular items like computers, beers and groceries.

An IbisWorld retail industry analyst told Quartz that the high growth rate in men’s clothing sales is probably due to the fact that the online menswear market isn’t saturated yet.

Expanding out to a service for women is also on the cards.

Michael Piane says a full-scale launch will hopefully take place in 2016.

You can keep up to date with their journey through Otto + Reid’s social channels.

​ ​

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  • David Farrell
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