New Online Shopping Technology Cracks the Fit Code, Matches Women to Clothes Ideally Suited to their Unique Body Shape and Signature Style

Charming Shoppes Reinvents Ecommerce Experience, Plus Size Women First to Benefit from New Personalized Search Technology

Sep 12, 2011, 09:00 ET from Charming Shoppes, Inc.

BENSALEM, Pa., Sept. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A century ago, the New York Herald ran an advertisement that put the Lane Bryant brand on the map. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of this milestone, Lane Bryant, the most recognizable brand in plus size fashion, is once again charting a new direction for the industry with the introduction today of Fashion Genius™, a breakthrough technology that gives full figured women what they crave most: easy access to a world of plus size fashions that caters to their unique body shapes and style preferences.

In just three minutes and with no measurements required, the one-of-a-kind fit and style solution guides plus size women through a simple survey that marries their curves, fit issues and signature styles to a world of bras, tops and bottoms that are an ideal fit for their individual figures.

Rolling out on LaneBryant.com as well as plus size sister brands, including Catherines.com, FashionBug.com, Cacique.com, and new online shopping hub, Sonsi.com, Fashion Genius takes the guesswork out of shopping online, enabling plus size women to turn personalized picks into fully styled, head-to-toe outfits that they can shop, save and share with their friends. According to Jill Hutchison, general manager of Sonsi.com, Charming Shoppes' award-winning online shopping and social destination, "with Fashion Genius, she can truly achieve her full fashion potential in an online shopping environment that's designed just for her. It's like having your own personal department store delivered to your living room."

Citing Fashion Genius as an Internet first, Bill Bass, president of Charming Shoppes Direct, describes the breakthrough technology as a game changer for women who shop online. "Until now, searching for apparel online has been a frustrating hit or miss experience, lacking the personalization necessary for finding clothes that fit," says Bass, who added that the company's goal was to create the Internet's first fit search engine that would make shopping for clothes online as easy as shopping for a book or computer. "We're especially excited that plus size women, a typically underserved and marginalized demographic, will get the first bite of the apple. In less time than it takes to get dressed, Fashion Genius solves the fit issues that have historically plagued the nearly 60 percent of American women who wear size 12 and up."  

Math Meets Fashion, Fit Meets Style

It took a team of mathematicians, computer scientists, and fashion industry experts to uncover the link between a woman's shape and the issues she has with finding clothes that both fit and flatter.  Powered by an algorithm that took months to build, using 70 million points of data, Fashion Genius was the result of an enormous Charming Shoppes research and development project that included 10,000 in-person fittings of bras, pants and tops and 1.25 million survey answers.

According to Rob Holloway, chief executive officer of Zafu, Charming Shoppes technology partner on Fashion Genius, the simple survey-based technology hides a complex fit and style algorithm that is hard at work behind the scenes. "The beauty of Fashion Genius is its ability to transform a complex search engine function into an easy to use, uniquely personal, rewarding clothing shopping experience," says Holloway, who pointed out that shopping is an intensely personal experience, yet when it comes to shape, style and fit, the fashion world at large has historically given plus size women generic solutions. "Now, at last, millions of plus size women can shop online with confidence that the clothes they buy will fit well and look great. And the best part is Fashion Genius' pictorial survey format makes the process simple, fast and fun."

The proprietary research conducted by Charming Shoppes for its family of plus size retail brands during the Fashion Genius research and development phase reveals that there is a strong correlation between the way plus size women describe their shape, their weight distribution and what areas they look to conceal:

The Fit & Style Factor - When it comes to finding pieces that fit and flatter, 93 percent of plus size women say they want to conceal their tummy, while 63 percent say they want to conceal their arms; when buying jeans and pants, 65 percent report problems with gaping at their waist. Only 1 in 8 are happy with the fit of their bras, with cup shape, shoulder strap and band lines cited as major issues. Plus size women also cited avoiding certain silhouettes and patterns, with stripes and narrow legged pants at the top of the list. Fashion Genius' individualized approach invites the plus size woman to share details that are completely unique to her, and shows her, in 3 minutes or less, a selection of clothes that will fit her body shape and complement her style.  



Fashion Genius comes on the heels of the Charming Shoppes' recent shopping upgrades, including the universal shopping cart - which connects the brands Lane Bryant, Catherines, Fashion Bug, Cacique, Loop 18 and Sonsi's assortment of over 300+ brands. In a move designed to offer even more convenience to its customers, women now have the option to have any order, with any combination of brands, shipped for to any of the Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug or Catherines nearly 2,000 nationwide store locations for pickup. Women save time shopping a vast selection of merchandise with a single checkout and save money: the ship-to-store option is free.

About Charming Shoppes, Inc.

Charming Shoppes, Inc. operates 1,953 retail stores in 48 states under the names LANE BRYANT®, CACIQUE®, LANE BRYANT OUTLET®, FASHION BUG®, FASHION BUG PLUS® and CATHERINES PLUS SIZES®.  The Company also operates the Figi's family of brands, including the holiday food and gifts catalog Figi's® Gifts in Good Taste®, the home and gifts catalog Figi's® Gallery and its wholesale unit Figi's Business Services, and Sonsi®, an online marketplace featuring over 300 brands, one of the largest online assortments for full figured women. For more information about Charming Shoppes and its brands, please visit www.charmingshoppes.com, www.lanebryant.com, www.cacique.com, www.fashionbug.com, www.catherines.com, www.loop18.com, www.sonsi.com, www.figis.com, and www.figisgallery.com.

About Zafu
Zafu is the leading online provider of personalized recommendations for women's clothes that fit her style and shape. Zafu's proprietary technology and easy user experience resulted in Time Magazine naming Zafu as one of their top ten sites and 7.7 million women using the service. In 2011 Zafu partnered with Charming Shoppes Inc. to launch Fashion Genius™ the first personalized product recommendation service for plus sizes women. Zafu also provides product improvement consulting for 15 leading retailers and brands in the US. Launched in 2006, Zafu is privately owned and based in Berkeley, CA. For more information visit the Zafu website at www.zafu.com.

SOURCE Charming Shoppes, Inc.



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