There's nothing worse than a garment ripping or tearing as you step out of a cab on the way to a big meeting.
She started an online company called MM. LaFleur that challenged two deep-seated beliefs of the fashion industry: She partnered with Miyako Nakamura, the former head designer at Zac Posen, to create a line of classic shift dresses, pencil skirts, and blouses in muted colors that would appeal to working women of all ages. And with a third cofounder, Narie Foster, who headed up operations, they invented a system of selling these outfits to busy professional women without requiring them to spend any time shopping.
The idea seemed utterly ridiculous to investors. And if a main selling point was the fit, why on earth would you sell them online instead of in a store, where women could try them on? Over the last 12 months, its employee headcount has shot up from 14 to Inspired by the Japanese tradition of serving an entire five-course meal in a neat little box, MM.
LaFleur sends customers a box of personally curated products from their website designed to come together as a complete set of outfits—dresses, blazers, even accessories—that a woman would need for a week at the office. Customers who visit the website are invited to answer a very short questionnaire about their style and body shape, and a week later the Bento arrives at their doorstep.
They can keep and pay for the products they like, then return the rest for free. LaFleur blog, LaFleur points out that Barack Obama only wears gray or blue suits to cut down on the number of decisions he has to make every day.
The Bento is MM. The goal of the box is to give the customer an opportunity to experience the quality and fit of the products without expecting her to spend time or effort in the shopping process. The Bento service allows women to experience the attention to detail that goes into every garment, since it is almost impossible to demonstrate this on a website, LaFleur says. But we went in the exact opposite direction: I think the same should be true for clothes.
To achieve a perfect fit, Nakamura uses a wide range of models during the design process, rather than just using a size two model and then proportionally scaling up, which is standard practice in the fashion industry. When she is creating a new dress, she drapes layers of material on the model, then cuts the dress as necessary to sculpt the right look and ensure that the fabric does not bunch up at the seams.
LaFleur team also innovates by finding materials that look luxurious but are easy to maintain: These adaptable designs are amazing for wear during the workday, but they can also be a valuable part of your wardrobe for other occasions.
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