About StringKing Apparel
At StringKing, we’ve always been dedicated to practicing inclusivity in every area of our business, promoting equity in our industry more broadly, and sharing our passion for the sports we love. That’s why we strive to offer high quality products at reasonable prices. That’s why we’ve donated hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of sticks through our Make The Game Initiative, first through our Buy 1 Give 1 program and then expanding into partnerships with organizations like the US Lacrosse Diversity & Inclusion program and dozens of others working at local and international levels. And that’s why we continue to support organizations and individuals working to make things better.
StringKing Apparel is no different.
Our aim is to help everyone purchase perfect-fitting clothes no matter their body type. We are making this process easy, inexpensive, and fast. We want to improve confidence in people’s day to day lives by providing clothing they feel confident in.
Our competitors in the custom apparel space include Zozo, Indochino, J. Hilburn, Black Lapel, Proper Cloth, MTailor, and Son of a Tailor. The majority of our competitors have about a 4 week delivery time and only sell high end products like suits and dress shirts. The majority of our competitors also have their garments manufactured in Asia. StringKing apparel is made within a day or two, right here at our headquarters in Los Angeles.
When we first started, we thought that for our custom fit system to work, people would need to take physical measurements of themselves. We quickly found that people just aren’t very good at measuring themselves, and the results are not much better when having an inexperienced friend measure instead.
So, we tried a new approach. We purchased a large dataset of human body scans with an accompanying questionnaire. We put our math educations to use and used a combination of statistics and machine learning to use the questionnaire data to predict human body measurements. We found that our algorithm was much more accurate than inexperienced people measuring each other and resulted in better-fitting clothes. In fact, our algorithm can predict a lot of body dimensions to an average under 3% error. Some of our competitors predict body dimensions from an algorithm like ours, some make you send in photos of yourself, and some make you go to a store to get your body dimensions measured.
We have spent three years working on our apparel technology. We have created our own garment design software, body dimension prediction algorithm, automated manufacturing robotics, garment sewing operation, etc. Our technologies give us some significant advantages over competitors.
- Customers only need to answer a questionnaire. They don’t need to take photos of themselves, have a friend measure them, or go to store to get measured.
- We have lowered our costs enough that we can sell reasonably low-cost garments like $33.99 premium t-shirts vs. $400 suits.
- We have ~24hr production time vs. competitors ~3-4 week production time.
While we currently only offer men’s t-shirts, we have a lot of other garments and women’s apparel in development. As our system grows, we will be adding higher end products like winter jackets. As we offer higher cost items, it is even more important that our garments fit as well as possible. However, our real focus is on improving and scaling our technology. Our competitors are growing quickly, and the number of competitors is growing quickly.
Every individual’s set of beliefs about their bodies is personal.
While this is true for everyone, we understand subjects pertaining to physical appearance, shape, and size can be especially fraught for individuals who have experienced any form of violence or victimization due to their physical appearance. We also recognize certain groups and communities have been and continue to be targeted for specific forms of violence, physical or otherwise, due to specific physical attributes: race and gender chiefly among those.
We assure you any information we request regarding gender, measurement, ethnic descent, or anything else is done so solely and exclusively for the purpose ensuring that your apparel fits you and your body as perfectly as possible.
So why are we asking about ethnicity?
When we launched our custom apparel, our immediate priority was establishing a process that would enable us to produce extremely well-fitting custom apparel to the scale of our growing consumer base. In our initial body prediction algorithm, we included metrics like height, weight, gender, and age. We decided against including “ethnicity” as one of our predictors because it didn’t seem relevant. We thought, why would we give customers the option to add their ethnicity when buying a t-shirt? What does ethnicity have to do with a t-shirt?
However, as we went through round after round of fit testing, we noticed that we were failing to consistently fit every individual correctly. We specifically noticed that we were fitting white people better than non-white people.
We were falling short of our standards for a significant portion of our customers, and took this very seriously. We incorporated the “ethnicity” variable into the algorithm with no expectations and we immediately noticed our margin of error decreased significantly. The people we had been failing to fit correctly were suddenly much happier with shirts that they felt fit perfectly. That happiness is what we are all about. We want to spread that feeling to as many people as possible.
Mathematically this made sense. Our dataset was a random sampling of people across the United States, meaning that most of the people scanned in our dataset were white. Without “ethnicity” as a predictor our models were “ethnically” biased towards the majority white ethnic group. When we added “ethnicity” as a predictor we significantly reduced “ethnic” bias. In statistics, this is called “omitted variable bias”.
Encouraged by the positive impact of this metric, we immediately incorporated it into our questionnaire without fully considering the historical use of physiological pseudoscience to perpetuate racism and oppression in the United States. We were mortified to learn that our attempt to fit all kinds of people better had been associated with this ugly history. We failed to explain what we typically extrapolate from this data and, and perhaps more importantly, we did not clarify what we do not intend to extrapolate from this data.
We apologize for any pain or offense we have caused by incorporating ethnicity into our questionnaire without offering any context or clarity. We accept full responsibility for this uncharacteristically insensitive error in judgement. We are currently working with members of the community and with trained research specialists to make our questionnaire and data systems culturally competent and reflective of our real values.
We also want to make it clear that “ethnicity” has and always will be optional information provided by our customers. Any customer that does not wish to provide this information is encouraged to not provide it. And again, we assure you any information we request is solely and exclusively for the purpose ensuring that your apparel fits you and your body as perfectly as possible.
Please do not hesitate to email email@example.com with any questions, comments, or concerns. We are always looking to get more feedback on these issues, and are happy to address any questions.