Aam is the first and only fashion label to cater exclusively to women with full hips and thighs. Each piece sits snug at the waist with more room for hips and thighs. Our pants are designed for the 25% of American women who have a “curvy bottom,” who struggle to find clothes that fit.
1 in 4 American women have a “curvy bottom” shape, meaning they have larger hips and thighs, and a smaller waist, than the standard size chart. This represents a $451M opportunity. This shape is disproportionately represented among women of color; Black and South Asian women in particular.
The market is underpenetrated, with few players. After speaking with 100+ women across the country, Aam’s Founder, Neha, discovered that there are only 3 brands that these women turn to – 1) Fashionnova (cheap partywear that achieves “fit” by using a high degree of stretch), 2) Everlane (denim only) and Good American (denim only and much pricier).
Aam differentiates itself from its competitors by designing, beautiful, high quality, well-fitted pieces at a competitive price ($84-$92 per pant). We have three unique advantages:
1) Data: Standard size charts are based largely off of a 1939 study that surveyed 15,000 women across the U.S. This study was flawed for several reasons including: 1) it relied on bust measurements, assuming women are proportional throughout and 2) it excluded women who were not Caucasian from the final results, thereby underrepresenting body shapes that are more commonly found among women of color.
In contrast, Aam has built a fresh dataset of 314 women who have a smaller waist-to-hip ratio. Our patterns are proprietary and accurately represent our demographic.
2) Fit Testing: Most brands conduct fit testing on one size and then scale using absolute value measurements (e.g. +/- 2” to go up or down a size). After speaking with senior merchandisers at retail giants, Neha learned how flawed this methodology is and how it hurts women of larger sizes. At Aam, we fit test every size. For our signature trouser line, this process took almost 10 months to perfect. It is extremely expensive and cumbersome for a larger, fast fashion brand to implement this change in their production process.
3) Supply Chain: Aam’s supply chain is based out of India, Neha’s home country. Based on her deep ties there, she was able to seek out ethical, boutique factories without the help of middlemen, and work on quick, streamlined turnarounds on the ground. This is part of the reason that Aam’s price is so competitive even at such low quantities.
4) Founder Experience: Neha has the body type Aam caters to, understands the customer pain point first-hand, and knows how to design for and speak to this customer. She also has a deeply analytical background, with a Bachelor in Science (Honors) from the California Institute of Technology and an MBA from Stanford – this has allowed her to address the root cause of the fit problem (bad data) and build from the ground up.
The fashion industry as a whole is very top-down. A few designers determine trends for the upcoming season and retail brands then reimagine those trends for the masses. In all of this, there's very little thought given to what the consumer wants; e.g. a design that is likely to flatter someone with an inverted triangle shape is unlikely to flatter someone with a pear shape, but both are fed the same trends.
Taking Aam's approach of designing for a niche customer would require flipping the entire process on its head. We put the customer at the forefront and design everything around what will make her look and feel great. This change in process is expensive and time consuming for most industry incumbents. Still, there are some denim brands who are venturing into curvy body shapes, and new startups that are focused on body type niches.
Furthermore, rebuilding a size chart from scratch is a complicated task; it's much easier to add stretch or elastic into products so that they "fit" different shapes. You will notice that the % of assortments featuring spandex/elastane has gone up significantly. It's the easier, cheaper solution, but it compromises on quality and aesthetic.
To-date we have just a 3% return rate and rave reviews across sizes.
Aam has been 100% bootstrapped from Neha’s savings, and is currently B2C only. Being a niche brand, it is well set up for community driven marketing on social media (Instagram, TikTok, Youtube), influencer campaigns and targeted podcasts and press.
Neha’s exploration of the poor fit began she was getting her MBA at Stanford Business School in 2017. She was visiting Rwanda and trying on garments made by local designers when the impeccable fit caught her by surprise. It was something she had never experienced in the U.S. She learned that these designers were using their own size charts, reflective of the local population, who shared a curvy shape like hers. Upon returning, she dove deep into the history of size charts, unearthed the root cause of poor fit, and realized she had found the focus of her business.
After graduation, Neha went on to work at Minted, eventually going on to launch 13 products and 1 new category for the brand. When she wasn’t at work, she was poring over fit research papers from around the world, conducting virtual closet tours to understand women’s fit problems, and surveying women across the country to understand style preferences. In October of 2020, she left Minted to pursue Aam full-time.
In 2021, Neha’s main focus was building an ethical, sustainable supply chain; not an easy feat given she was in India during the height of the Delta Coronavirus wave. She worked with her designer to create 3 timeless styles for her customer and had them fit tested over and over, across sizes, until the fit was perfected. For The Flex Waist Pant, it took 13 tries!
The brand launched on April 13, 2020 with its signature line of trousers. To-date, it has a 3% return rate, with rave reviews on its fit and quality.
Name: Neha Samdaria
Neha has a Bachelor in Science (Honors) from Caltech and an MBA from Stanford. As a data nut, she gets most excited by unearthing the fundamental source of a problem and solving it at its root. Women’s sizing is broken because it’s relying on a size chart that was developed almost 100 years ago. Neha has gone to the heart of the issue and is solving it from the ground up; that’s why her products are so successful.
She also has extensive experience launching consumer products. While at Minted, she was the Director of Business Operations for 3 of the business’s core categories. She launched 13 products for the company and 1 new category (personalized gifting), leading every step of the process from consumer research and supplier negotiations to marketing strategy and customer experience. She knows what it takes to build a product and get it off the ground.
Finally, Neha is Indian and her family has deep expertise in textile production. Her network and cultural familiarity has allowed her to cut out middlemen and work directly with boutique factories on their production. This is part of the reason that she has been able to price so competitively, despite being a new, sustainable brand with small quantities.
“Aam” means “ordinary” in Hindi, our Founder’s native tongue. The company’s approach to design – starting with the consumer, and designing entirely for her – runs counter to the entire industry. Her goal with this business is to make this consumer-centric approach to design more “ordinary,” giving power back to the women who wear our clothes, and elevating their voices on a global stage.