Feel Like Your Body is NEVER Represented in Fashion? You Might Need This App

I love shopping with a passion – but as a former skinny minnie who TOTALLY took for granted the fact that on me, clothes kind of looked like they did on mannequins (albiet less boobs and less leg!) – now that I have curves and a tummy, it can be so hard to figure out what the hell is going to look good on me.

Does it flatter the stomach? Pull in at the waist? Not make my butt look like its own continent?

There’s a new app that aims to help you with this exact issue. Mys Tyler is a female-founded startup, crated by Aussie Sarah Neill, on a mission to create a more personalised and empowering shopping experience for women, all while helping to fix the fashion industry’s $1 trillion “fit” issue.

The social-shopping app uses a combination of AI and human-based recommendations to connect women across the globe with like-bodied creators who are a similar height, size, shape, ethnicity, and age, so they can “follow”, discover, and shop fashion inspiration that fits. Mys Tyler also serves up daily fashion prompts to inspire users to get creative with what’s in their wardrobe.

There are a range of incredible New Zealand-based Contributors, including Melissa Bult-BurnsEvie KempJess Raffills, & Amelia De Pont – and we spoke to founder Sarah about her inspiration, the ongoing inclusion issues in the fashion industry and being a serial entrepreneur.

Kia ora Sarah! Tell me a little about the app! Was it inspired by a ‘fit’ issue?

Sort of, but not really. It was more of a ‘style’ issue. I’ve never had a knack for knowing what pieces to put together, or enjoyed shopping, but while I don’t enjoy the process, I care about the outcome – I feel better when I like my outfit! I realised I had been stuck in a rut and wanted to elevate my look and wear a larger range of things, but when I tried things on that looked great on friends or women I saw on the street, they just wouldn’t look the same on me – they “fit” but they didn’t look right. It was pretty clear that my height and shape changed the way things looked, so I wished I could go onto Instagram and search for someone who was my height and size, and had a similar shape, whose style I liked, that I could just copy. I referred to it as My Styler = Mys Tyler. The concept resonated with friends, and over six years I kept fleshing it out (theoretically) and validating it with different people. By the time I started working on it full time, I knew it was a problem that a lot of people wanted to be solved.

When I started building Mys Tyler I began looking at industry trends and insights, and that’s when I realised how big the “fit” issue is. Up to 40% of clothes purchased online are returned, and 70% are due to poor fit. It’s projected that this will soon cost the industry $1TRILLION a year! And I believed that our solution for “fit” by addressing more than just size, could be the solution!

How does it work?

You enter a quick body quiz – things you’ll know without needing a tape measure like your height , cup size and normal dress size, then our FIT algorithm assigns a fit score between you and each fashion creator so we can show you them in order of body relevance. This makes it easy for you to discover women with a body similar to yours, if you like their style, you can follow them and see what they are wearing, how things fit, how they’ve styled them, and where the pieces can be purchased.

Why do you think we have a need for Mys Tyler?

The statistics behind the fit issue prove that there is a HUGE inefficiency that needs to be solved. Beyond that, we’ve realised just how excluded so many women feel in the world of fashion. If we only see tall, young, size six women in fashion, we think that’s normal, and so anyone who isn’t that (i.e. most people), can feel abnormal. By showing a range of women (including tall, young, size six women who we also love), we are allowing women to see themselves represented, and see fashion that’s relevant for them. We know this lack of representation is tied to body confidence, and we’ve already proven how easy it is to flip that narrative, 86% of our users are more body confident just by using our app and seeing diversity of bodies.

It’s hard for any brand to show their items on a range of models, let alone all sizes, heights, ages, shapes etc. So that’s why we believe the solution needs to be crowdsourced! Our platform is designed to do this  job by allowing all woman to contribute the outfits that make them feel great, and in the process we are actually helping all the players in fashion – our competition is the wasted shipping, and returned items that land in landfill!

How has the app helped you personally?

I have learned a lot through the creators (many of whom are stylists) on our platform. I’ve been learning more about my shape, and why things look different to me than on others who I’d have thought were quite similar, style hacks (like how to tuck, tricks with accessories etc) and maybe the biggest learning has been regarding coloring – have you ever worn something and noticed people commenting on how well you look? Chances are it’s the coloring. I realised I’ve been wearing things that really wash me out. As an example, pick up a bright white and an off white and hold them against your skin and see what you think – it’s amazing what a difference it can make. Start doing that with things in your wardrobe and you’ll start to discover your colours!

But beyond all that, I am always so proud when I open up the app and see the incredible people that Mys Tyler has brought together.

Do you think there’s a need for a universal fitting system?

That would be amazing but I think it’s unrealistic. There are so many brands, producing billions of pieces, it’s not feasible for each piece’s measurements to be published (lots of people have tried and failed here). But more importantly, an element that I think tech solutions miss, is the human element of style. Something can look terrible until you add a belt, or change the hem on the item you’ve paired them with, or added a jacket or a tuck. Knowing what items to put together and how to style them is a huge part of fit that can be missed. Even if the fitting system was perfect, you’d still have to decide what to try on, and how to style it. So, I think our solution – matching shoppers to like-bodies creators who recommend the outfits they’ve tried and tested, showing how they fit and how they’re styled – is a better approach 😉

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I started in advertising and marketing which I think is a great place to start. You focus on understanding users, what they think, what problems they have, what they’re looking to solve. By understanding this, you can see how you can solve their problems and communicate with them. In this way, you become an expert problem solver. For the past 10 years I’ve been building and scaling startups in the US before returning to Australia to start Mys Tyler. The last company I worked for – I was on the senior leadership team and was a founding member – just became a tech unicorn – Mint Mobile is being acquired by T-Mobile in the US for $2B. That was pretty special to be a part of and I’m so excited for all the team there.

This is the (third!?) business you’ve founded – do you reckon you’re a serial entrepreneur?

Absolutely, it’s addictive.

My first business happened by accident (sort of), I pitched an idea for a new product to the owner of the company where I worked, thinking he might give me a budget to test it out. Instead he gave me $1m to found the company and build it. I’d never thought of being a founder, but that gave me the ability to do it, and realise that I was capable and actually pretty good at it.

Once you realise that you can execute on a solution and create impact, it’s really hard not to act when you have ideas.

How do you find the motivation and inspiration for new ideas?

Honestly, I think the best ideas are the organic “ah ha” moments when you encounter some sort of annoyance, or problem and think “wouldn’t it be cool if….”. I’ve worked with a lot of people who want to be an entrepreneur and are trying to find an idea – look at market trends and so on, but it’s really hard to find an idea that way that really has traction. Often ideas can come in your area of expertise i.e. if you’re a lawyer you can spot an opportunity that tech entrepreneurs who don’t work in your field, don’t use your systems and don’t know the processes will never spot, so you have an insider advantage. My advice – always start with the problem!

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