Here at TWF, we love a good disruptive model. Several particularly interesting and relevant ones currently on the rise are in the virtual styling category – whether the styling is a service provided or an opportunity for the users to access their closets and style (and share) themselves using a mobile app.
Here are some of our favorites right now that are shaking up the fash tech world while simultaneously making people look really, really good.
*The Actual Live Human That Sends You Pretty New Things*
The words “personalized” and “freedom” are key here. These sites give the user the opportunity to look fabulous without all the back-end work and provide her/him with the personal touch of working with an actual person who curates the selection of clothing. They also offer the client freedom to choose what feels right, no pressure involved.
Tog+Porter offers video chat with a complimentary stylist in order to understand all of the nuances of the user’s personal style. After the discussion, a shipment of clothes is sent to the client, where she is afforded the ability to try on the outfits in the comfort of her own home – with or without her friends there for help, however she chooses to do so. The freedom of this is a huge perk for women, as is the ability to simply send something back if she doesn’t like it – there’s no charge for returns. The site also gives the client the option to work with her stylist every month or every season – whatever she prefers.
CakeStyle has a very similar approach – first, there’s a fit-and-wardrobe interview via phone or online which is followed by a package of hand-picked outfits arriving at the client’s door. This site takes the personalization factor one step further and includes “a link to a personalized video of your stylist explaining the choices on a mannequin.” Not only does the client have the freedom to try the clothes on at her own pace, she also has support from her stylist. CakeStyle also allows the client to simply return anything she doesn’t want; shipping is free both ways (and they even include packing tape just in case!)
Don’t worry guys – we didn’t forget you! Appealing to men via the “skip the hassle of the store and still look awesome” approach, Trunk Club is the male version of virtual styling. Men can choose their preferred level of communication with his Trunk Club Expert – whether it’s creating a personal profile online, corresponding via email, or talking on the phone. The Expert then packs the client’s trunk with a hand-picked selection of clothes – the site offers to send trunks at whatever interval the client chooses, to wherever he chooses (“private blimp” is mentioned as a valid request). Editor’s note: after viewing their “Our Clothes” page as a female with a huge appreciation for a stylish, well-dressed man — oh yeah, you’re gonna want to check them out.
All of these sites remain consistent in one aspect – the client only pays for what they keep.
*The Mobile App That Mirrors Your Closet (And Closet Inspiration)*
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: what’s a major factor in how we make decisions these days? One word: immediacy. We want it and we want it now. These apps give users that immediate access they’ve been craving.
Cloth helps the user share and save her/his favorite outfits. Photos are quickly and easily snapped then uploaded to the app – they can be saved to a specific category, adding notes and tags; there’s also an option for the user to view their own outfits as a general feed. Cloth utilizes a wide variety of sharing options: to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or to clothapp.com where the site curates and shares its favorite looks. The video on their site is spot-on; simple, sweet, and informative about the process – just like we like our videos (and you know we like our videos.)
The Stylebook mobile app gives a user the ability to access their closet from anywhere. The fashion-obsessed have many options with this app: creating a catalogue of style inspirations from other sites and blogs, designing mood boards on a blank canvas, and saving photos of items from her/his closet (with editing/resizing options) into custom categories with notes and tags for tracking. There’s even a calendar feature to help plan future outfits and keep record of past ones. The user can share outfits with their social network via email or Facebook. An additional and very helpful feature is the large variety of video tutorials available on the site.
*And This Is Where The World Is Headed*
We came across Vault Couture and, well, immediately wished we had more couture that we could vault. It’s the ultimate in the “virtual closets” model; a company that offers different levels of wardrobe cataloguing and storing services. It feels futuristic even, and is widening the horizon of opportunity by offering its services to a broad geographic market, yet still keeping to quite a niche and privileged audience. The site professionally photographs and bar-codes each individual item of a client’s wardrobe before storing it in a climate and humidity controlled, air-purified facility in Central London; the collection can be viewed and managed by the client via the Vault Couture iPad app. They provide global delivery of requested items, 24 hours a day to anywhere in the world – lest the client should decide last minute that she just can’t live without that stunning Marchesa number for her gala this weekend.
An additional service is the transfer of clients’ luggage anywhere in the world while they are traveling. Personalizing the experience even more, the site has cataloguing experts on hand who travel to clients’ homes to hang/fold/archive her/his entire closet (for those who want to keep their treasures in their possession). VC will present the client with a professional photo catalogue of the wardrobe as well. To add yet another element to the model, there is an online boutique where clients can sell pieces from old collections and make purchases from other clients doing the same.
There are many different approaches that companies are taking in the virtual styling realm – whether through services or through social networking. The lines are beginning to blur and will continue to do so as the mobile expansion places emphasis on the use of a single platform; one that’s aiming to streamline how we communicate. Stay tuned – this should be fun.
Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.
*The rad image at the top of this post is by photographer Sam Hessamian.