Mark Cuban and the Future of Online Shopping

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Fashion Metric bills itself as Pandora for menswear, but the Mark Cuban–backed site has a grander agenda than remixing men’s wardrobes. The new venture intends to solve the problem that has kept online retailers from dominating department stores: fit. A company that can reliably provide new customers with appropriately sized clothing is a company that doesn’t have to invest in the infrastructure surrounding returns. Lower overhead means savings for customers and better fit means a broader customer base. In order to move in this direction, Fashion Metric employs a proprietary algorithm based on information every man should know – his height, his weight, his size in any retail giant’s shirts – in order to create custom, but not bespoke, threads.

“People want to buy clothes online,” Cuban explained to Men’s Journal. “The challenge is overcoming the inability to try the clothes on. Fashion Metric solves this problem by applying technology. The result? No returns.”

Well, that’s the theory anyway. In practical reality, the site can’t guarantee a perfect fit just yet, but it can learn from its own mistakes. Each shopper will help the company’s founders, an ex-UCLA PhD candidate and an engineer, refine their algorithm. When their audience reaches a critical mass, they should be able to accurately predict what will work for any man willing to fill out a questionnaire honestly. It’s a great idea and one that appeals to Cuban, who has spent his career searching for the next logical step in industry after industry (and shouting at NBA officials). Until the site adds more juice to its lineup – though good looking, its shirting selection is a bit workaday – it may seem more like an experiment than a business. But if the algorithm being created can be licensed or grow so that it interfaces with a broader selection of brands, Macy’s and Nordstrom will be running scared.

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