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Using Selfies to Lower Online Clothing Returns

A Danish startup offers a way for e-tailers to limit apparel returns

It’s an Internet Age-old riddle: How do you know if clothing you buy online is going to fit and—more important—flatter you? Christian Wylonis wants to solve it with Fitbay, his Copenhagen-based startup, which matches you online with people of similar size and shape to see how clothing looks in real life. “It’s the missing social network,” says Wylonis, 30, who says his long torso makes it hard for him to find comfortable shirts. “We aim to become the Facebook of clothing.”

The global online market for apparel and footwear is poised to expand to $305 billion in 2018, from $128 billion last year, researcher Euromonitor International estimates. But returns from fickle shoppers are a growing headache for Web retailers. About 30 percent of clothing sold on the Web goes back to retailers, according to Clear Returns, a consultant in Glasgow, Scotland. Germany’s Zalando, Europe’s biggest Internet-only shoe and fashion store, says about half of the items it sells are returned.