Startup roundup: The fashion brands forging virtual connections with shoppers

The year 2020 was undoubtedly a transformative year for businesses, including those in the fashion industry who are forced to adapt and innovate in order to meet the challenges of the coronavirus outbreak.

Here, three fashion-tech startups share an insight into the innovative technology solutions that allow brands to connect and interact with consumers virtually. 

Mys Tyler

Founder: Sarah Neill

Location: Australia

Launch date: August 2020

Category: Mobile fashion app that helps women find and buy clothing that fits with the help of celebrities.

Here’s what you need to know:

Fashion brands all over the world quickly realised the need for better digital experiences when Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing prompted consumers to stay home. 

Fashion-tech startups and online platforms have cleverly and quickly acted on this, making connecting fashion retailers and buyers readily doable.

One of the fashion-tech startups launched last year with that idea front of mind was Mys Tyler, a mobile fashion app founded by Sarah Neill.

Neill said the platform helps women find clothes that fit by helping them discover their celebrity body match. Like an “Instagram for fashion”, customers can follow influencers on the app whose style they admire and peruse a curated feed of clothing that is suited to their needs. 

“Rather than having to try on clothes to see what looks good (and for buying online this means trying on at home and returning the ones that aren’t right), we match [shoppers] to women that look similar — height, size and shape — who show what they like, and let [the shopper] see clothes on a similar body,” Neill told Inside Retail.

“These contributors add links to buy the items they are recommending, so users can buy those items directly from the brands or e-commerce sites. In essence, we’re a lead generator for fashion brands.” 

The startup launched a teaser app in August last year but will only officially launch this month.

Since the teaser app was introduced last year, Neill said the app has already been downloaded by more than 30,000 women with 500 partner brands and nearly 100 women who have applied as contributors.

“We are global from the beginning and 80 per cent of our users are from outside of Australia, with the biggest share coming from the US,” Neill disclosed.

Mys Tyler founder Sarah Neill

Neill wants to build a diverse pool of women from around the world contributing their fashion know-how to their community.

“We want Mys Tyler to be a place where any woman of any height, size, shape (whatever that means), age can connect with like-bodied women and find those whose style they resonate with,” she said. 

“This will mean women can have a feed of personalised body and style relevant content. We started recruiting through Instagram, finding women whose style we liked, with a focus on diversity.”

Neill said they have discovered an interesting consumer trend when launching the app and speaking to their contributors. One of the insights they have gleaned from them was activewear fatigue.

“People loved wearing nothing but activewear as a novelty, but that’s wearing off and now women are wearing sequins on their morning coffee run: ‘Who knows when I’ll get to wear this fabulous skirt. So I may as well wear it now!’,” she shared.

“With a shift to working from home, and constant Zoom meetings, people are having to rethink their work uniform,” Neill said. “One Mys Tyler contributor who is also a stylist mentioned a client that went and bought a Country Road linen shirt in all colours, as it was the perfect, smart casual (and comfortable) look for his Zoom meetings.”

The fashion app founder said they are expecting the coronavirus health crisis to last a lot longer than expected and brands need to do a better job of showing clothes on a diverse range of women.

“We’re going to have to think about a world in which we can’t be traveling to meetings; that the workforce is never going to be the same and we’re looking at a hybrid of office/home moving forward,” Neill said.

“The fact is not everything will suit everyone, even when the size is right. So, finding ways to best represent clothing on women that better represent the population is a challenge that I think brands should be trying to solve.”

The Floorr

Founder: Lupe Puerta

Location: UK

Launch date: March 2020

Category: Luxury fashion platform driven by fashion insiders — the shopfloor community.

Here’s what you need to know:

Online luxury fashion platform The Floorr, launched last year by founder Lupe Puerta, combines the expertise and service of luxury retailers and an innovative digital shopping experience.

The fashion platform features daily looks which include outfits and accessories put together by these fashion insiders. It also includes categories such as Latest Looks, Designer and Trending with industry advisors and professionals giving advice virtually, sharing their experiences and thoughts.

The Floorr founder Lupe Puerta

“The Floorr takes the essence of a luxury shop floor and distils it into a digital experience like no other,” Puerta said. “On every level, from a range of covetable items, to bespoke and personable advice, we’re tailoring everything for our customers. We expertly pull looks together just for our shoppers.”

The creation of The Floorr was about establishing two components — the customer and the voices of the shop floor, according to Puerta. 

“The shop floor community holds such unique insight and incredible knowledge beyond trends. They know so much about their customers, and they think about their lifestyle and needs in a way no one else in the industry can.”

According to Puerta, a former global director and head of VIP client relations for the Yoox Net-A-Porter Group, style is as unique as a fingerprint and it’s how a person wears it and owns it that makes it his or hers. She said the brand’s fashion industry expert partners are giving their customers exactly that — their own unique style.

“They’ve seen the latest collections, they’ve got their ears to the ground, they know what’s on the floor. And now they can share all their expertise and knowledge with our customers, right on The Floorr, key looks composed by connoisseurs,” Puerta stated.


Founder: Stephanie Smith

Location: Norway

Launch date: November 2019

Category: Fashion week market planner for virtual buying appointments between retailers and buyers.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Covid-19 crisis meant that fashion weeks around the world could not go ahead under the traditional model and therefore virtual events dominated. 

With hundreds of brands and fashion buyers needing to schedule virtual appointments across time zones and video platforms, digital solutions were needed for more efficient fashion week market planning. 

ModaResa, which joined LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s La Maison des Startups accelerator program in November 2020, is an online platform that takes care of the planning process in the leadup to fashion week and buying seasons, linking the fashion industry’s buyers and sellers and help them avoid timing conflicts and collect data along the way.

“The tense world situation will force the industry to think differently,” said ModaResa founder Stephanie Smith. “Even before we entered this apocalyptic period, we saw a debate about restricting travel business. In the future, a larger proportion of the meetings will be digital. We are working on solutions for it now.” 

Through ModaResa’s app, fashion brands can invite their buyers to book an appointment into their seller’s availability with real-time visibility, cutting down on endless e-mail exchanges between buyers, sellers and assistants to zero in on a schedule that’s good for everyone.

ModaResa founder Stephanie Smith

Buyers can sign up for free and synchronise their ModaResa and Google calendars. They can add to their itineraries the runway shows they want to attend. ModaResa aggregates all show information from Milan, Paris, London, New York and Copenhagen schedules with more cities to come in the future.

“Ultimately, you need to know who’s showing, where and when they’re showing, and how can you combine those shows with other appointments,” Smith said.

Smith said with 2020 being such a transformative year, encouraging the fashion world to adapt and innovate in order to overcome challenges brought about by the global health crisis, ModaResa’s technology is setting the course through the turbulence.

“We’re eager to show brands that there are better, alternative ways to coordinate their processes — and most importantly, we want to empower them in this new era of virtual markets,” she added.

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