On Our Radar: 5 Emerging NYC Fashion Startups
Projective Space and Fashion Digital Daily launched the Future of Fashion in New York, an ongoing series showcasing live demos of emerging fashion startups in beta or recently launched. Through live demos, participating companies presented their platforms to an audience of fashion professionals and a panel of judges who provided valuable feedback. Below are the top five emerging fashion startups on FMM’s radar.
The Concept: Currently in beta, Listly allows users shopping across the web to add products they find to a new or existing shopping lists. Similar to Pinterest yet targeted to men, there’s a “Add to Listly” tab to drag to bookmark bar to install. Users can also share completed lists to friends and family via email, Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.
The Feedback: When evaluating startup pitches, Faran Krentcil, panelist and digital director of NYLON Magazine, considers what’s similar on the market and what she’s already told her audience to try. Fortunately, all three panelists agreed that Listly seems like a unique business for guys, so run with it. “The online menswear marketing is booming,” Faran said. “Sites like MR PORTER are taking off a lot faster than their female counterparts. If you could somehow start getting cool guys involved with Listly, maybe that’s the place guys can go and is your sweet spot to differentiate yourself from Pinterest.”
The Concept: At a glance, Kaleidoscope is Pinterest meets ShopStyle. The technology behind this app analyzes pieces in select street style looks (i.e.: an over sized sun hat) and gives product suggestions inspired by that look. The results are dynamic as each time a user returns, so fashion fans don’t need to worry about the products selling out in a few months. Notable partnerships include Condé Nast’s Details coverage of Coachella and men’s fashion week in Milan.
The Feedback: Guest panelist Steve Schlafman, principal at Lerer Ventures, says he’s noticing a trend of content and commerce coming together. “If you don’t have a content strategy, you’re going to be left in the dust because that’s where the industry is moving,” Schlafman said. Faran suggested for Kaleidoscope to talk to real girls who are shopping and figure out how they’re buying from this site. “Bloggers don’t move product,” Faran said. “Girls on the street move product. Stand outside TopShop and Barneys and talk to them.” In terms of functionality, panelist Christina Rinaldi, creative director of Prima Creative, liked how clean and intuitive Kaleidoscope is. We’d have to agree.
3. The Cools
The Concept: Founded almost a year ago, The Cools is a social market place that is tailored to your style. When you’re buying a brand, you’re buying into a story or lifestyle that brand works hard to project. The Cools attempts to empower smaller sellers to create an editorial voice, connect with tastemakers and enable sellers to reach an audience of new potential customers. Individual users can curate products from sellers and sellers discover individual users based on their respective taste. For The Cools, it’s about creating and experience for small sellers via discover, not search.
The Feedback: Faran asked since this is an underground shop for cool people, what’s going to happen when a million people join the site? Chances are, not all of those new users will be cool, right? The Cools team said the idea behind their idea is that everyone has a difference sense of cool, regardless of how many members join their community.
4. Bespoke Post
The Concept: Let’s face it: most guys hate shopping. But at the end of the day, men account for over $80 billion on e-commerce. Bespoke sees an opportunity to build a new shopping experience for men from the ground-up with a curated subscription service for guys. Similar to Birchbox, Bespoke is $45/month and members can opt-out if they’re not interested in the current month’s theme. Brands see Bespoke as a new market targeting men in a highly curated way. Part of Bespoke’s media strategy includes co-branding with media partners (next month with AskMen).
The Feedback: This presentation brought the energy back into the room. All judges agreed: as a brand ambassador of your startup, it’s critical to bring it to life. In regards to the service, Schlafman said he’s not sure how many guys will do the monthly payment, so it’s nice to have the opt-out feature to feel more in control. Rinaldi also suggested to showcase a preview of the packaging somewhere on the site. There’s always a unique aspect to unboxing (Tiffany and Co., anyone?) so it could be a helpful teaser for the consumer and beneficial for branding purposes.
5. Carrie Hammer
The Concept: Launched in January, Carrie Hammer is based on made-to-measure fashion for professional woman who have a problem with fit. With men’s bespoke lines popping-up, Carrie Hammer attempts to fill that void for women. Like any other e-commerce site, users can shop the styles and order online. The new element is customizing your orders by entering your measurements. If you’re in the NY Metro area and unsure, you can book an appointment for fittings with Carrie or watch her instructional how-to YouTube videos. Once an account is created, user’s measurements stay in the system for future transactions.
The Verdict: While there could be tension in having extra steps to file measurements, Faran said it’s realistic to expect older, professional women to measure themselves. And for $295 per custom dress, the price point feels reasonable.
Which startup do you think has the most potential? Sound off in the comments below!