For someone who essentially shops for other people for a living, I sure hate shopping for myself. My wallet may disagree, but it's the truth. Shopping—as digitized, streamlined, and algorithimified as it's become—still takes time and emotional energy. Especially with athleisure and loungewear, which are like 80 percent of my closet and still the most frustrating to shop for. It takes a lot for me to absolutely love a pair of leggings, I'm really picky when it comes to hot yoga class-friendly tanks, and a sweater has to WOW me before I buy my 120th to add to the pile (I love sweaters more than an Angeleno should).
So, when I heard about Stitch Fix's new retailer platform that creates a customized shopping experience for you online (as opposed to their original, subscription box-style model), my ears perked up. Freestyle, which launched back in September, is a lot different from the Stitch Fix you may be familiar with. It's a culmination of thousands of retailers, all in one place, that are showcased together for you based on your style, needs, and wants. Everyone's Freestyle store looks different. I gave it whirl, and after a couple months of trying out Freestyle, I can officially say I'm hooked.
Here's how Stitch Fix Freestyle works
Similar to how you first start in your Stitch Fix journey, you begin by taking a style quiz that's designed to get a feel for your fashion aesthetic. It asks you about style preferences, budget, and sizes. Then, you're taken to another page where the platform presents you with 24 ensembles (no price tags included, so your decisions aren't swayed by $$$), and you choose the ones you like best. It's a totally AI-driven stylist, one which gets smarter and smarter over time by taking in your likes, dislikes, and eventually, the purchases you make (and don't return).
On the hunt for some good athleisure and loungewear basics and sweaters, I ended up choosing a pair of New Balance sneaks ($70), a Nike tank top ($30), Under Armour black leggings ($45), a North Face pullover hoodie ($55), Faherty joggers ($148), a Beyond Yoga sports bra ($66), and two Zoom-friendly sweaters (one by Market & Spruce, $38 the other by Fortune + Ivy, $44). All for just under $500.
The merchants really run the gamut. I saw hundreds of recognizable brands I already wear (such as Girlfriend Collective, Club Monaco, Vuori, Madewell, Adidas, Frame, and Marine Layer), and some I've never heard of. The nice thing about Freestyle (that I personally didn't love about the subscription service) is that you aren't charged a $20 style fee since you're still technically the stylist with some AI help. The prices for clothing depend on the price range you give Stitch Fix, but it's really not more than what you'd spend shopping on your own.
Everything I got in my first Freestyle haul was perfect. I didn't send anything back, and there were no surprises. It was all very "what you see is what you get." My shoes fit perfectly, I got several compliments on my new sweaters, and my Under Armour leggings are now on heavy rotation. What I loved most about it was that I still felt like I could browser window shop, but I didn't have to spend hours digging through products I wasn't interested in.
Who is Freestyle made for?
Stitch Fix Freestyle, to me, is like a hybrid of its subscription service and the manual kind of shopping you do when you're browsing on Nordstrom or Revolve. Unlike typical shopping, though, Stitch Fix saves you a few steps (rather, hundreds of pages to click through) through its personalized feature. This way, you're still sorting through a bunch of items, but most of them fit within your style preferences, and all adhere to your budget. It's like choosing a filter for price, category, and "stuff I'd actually consider wearing."
“There are some customers who don’t want to think about anything when it comes to shopping," CEO Elizabeth Spaulding explains to Fast Company. "But you’ve got people at the other end of the spectrum who we haven’t served as well. They love to participate in the shopping experience, and we believe this is going to be so much better for them than what is already out there."
Basically, it's shopping made more convenient (and more optimized). It's faster and more effortless, but you still get that browsing experience. I can't say Freestyle is going to replace my weekly forays through Verishop's sale section, but I'll definitely be hitting up when I need a wardrobe refresh without the hours of research that goes into it.
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