Shopping for clothes is already intimidating. There are so many options and styles to consider, as well as factors like sustainability and ethics.
But for people in fat, disabled, or queer and gender-nonconforming bodies, it’s even more arduous.
Nico Herzetty, Emma K. Clark, and Paul Herzetty wondered: What if there was a way people could shop — not necessarily by color or size — but by measurements, materials, and ethics?
So they set off to create their website: Phoria.
Here, shoppers can set up a free profile, add their body measurements (and “typical fit challenges”) and peruse over 270 brands. Once these data points are entered, users can personalize their pages with “saved,” “recommended,” or “hidden” brands.
Pages can be totally private, or shared with the community to connect over styles and brands.
Aside from fit, brands in the Phoria database (which claims to be “the largest database of plus-friendly brands”) can also be filtered as “gender-neutral,” “woman-run,” “small business,” or “natural fibers.” Users can also filter for price, preferred styles, and more.
“For so many people, it feels too damn hard to find and keep clothing that fits in all the ways that really matter. So we’re doing something about it,” the Phoria website reads.
“Unlike most online shopping experiences, we center the needs of plus-size women, nonbinary, and trans people, and prioritize supporting clothing brands focused on sustainability, ethics, and inclusion.”
The website is currently in beta mode, meaning users can play on the site to their heart’s content, and if they encounter a bug or have any issues, they can easily provide feedback to the Phoria team.
That team — made up of Clark, and Nico and Paul Herzetty — calls themselves “fat, disabled, and very, very queer.”
“These are some of the main ways we identify, and they’re qualities that have directly impacted our ability to get dressed every day in a way that feels good,” the Phoria team introduces themselves on the website.
In addition to catering the user experience to women, non-binary, and trans people, Phoria is also a benefit corporation, or a B corp.
“We’ve legally required ourselves to consider the interests of all our stakeholders — customers, employees, the planet, and our shareholders,” the Phoria website explains.
“Our specific public benefit purpose is to reduce people’s dependence on buying mass-produced items made in unsustainable ways and to use human-centered business models to boldly challenge economic systems of inequity.”
Right now, in the early stages of the company’s business, it doesn’t make any money.
“We’re focused on building something that genuinely solves plus-size people’s challenges around clothes shopping and supports smaller and more sustainable brands,” Phoria’s website states.
So, spreading the word seems to be of utmost importance.
Nico Herzetty, who is the “primary person” behind Phoria, has worked in tech for over 12 years, focusing on marketplaces and software for small businesses. They’ve been prominently featured on the brand’s social media pages, explaining the mission of the platform.
“If you’re plus-size, it can sometimes feel like you get the same brands recommended to you over and over again. These brands may not be a good fit for you, for any number of reasons,” they say in an Instagram Reel. “That’s where Phoria can help.”
Additionally, TikTok creators @couplagoofs (a queer couple named Morgan and Phoebe), recently shared a video in which they discovered Phoria. They met the website’s creators at a fat liberation event in their city and were introduced to the tool.
“We met the folks who run phoriafits.com, which is the coolest tool that I had absolutely never heard of,” Phoebe narrates in a TikTok video.
They stress that the video is not an ad — just a way to help people find a tool that really could help them in their style and shopping journeys.
Quickly, commenters responded with gratitude and excitement.
“It is so disappointing to sort through pages of plus size clothes that aren’t even plus size,” a TikTok user commented. “This is gonna be such a good tool!”
Some even shared emotional responses, speaking to the need at the heart of Phoria’s mission.
“I’m… gonna cry,” another commenter wrote. “I’ve needed this my whole life.”
Header image courtesy of Phoria