Fashion & Tech
Fashion’s use of technology was always a bit lack lustre, and Silicon Valley could hardly be considered fashionable. The two worlds just never seemed to interact much beyond the basics (think online shopping and POS systems). But to outsiders who could connect the dots, the two industries were very well suited to get together. The fashion industry needed some disruption and modernizing, and The Valley loves to do just that.
—Lauren Walker – Lee
Photo by Steph Martyniuk
For technology that is customer facing, it’s pretty straightforward – e-commerce shopping, apps to buy and sell through, and digital marketplaces, all with varying degrees of UX, customer service, and easy checkouts. The areas where most of the technological advances are made to ensure shoppers are adding to cart, and seamlessly making the purchase. Engaging and investing in the brands and experience on various levels.
Behind the scenes more heavy lifting is going on with the use of blockchain to assist in supply chain, AI predicting trends and helping production, and virtual and augmented reality being used to market and sell when it’s time. It’s not that there is no technology in fashion, it’s just that is was an industry notably late to the party of possibilities.
Yes there are well known tech-y fashion companies out there. Progressive luxury e-tailer SSENSE founded by three (non- fashion) brothers, one being a computer engineer, is often referred to as a tech company first, and fashion retailer second. The Montreal based heavyweight creates their own technology systems and solutions in house. And similarly Farfetch, fashion’s first unicorn, is a tech company first. The online platform founded by Jose Nevis, connects a global market of independent boutiques to customers worldwide. Offering smaller players a seamless robust digital platform to sell globally.
From a retail perspective, how we acquire our clothing and accessories is starting to see some expansion beyond the traditional, with the help of new technologies. Through social selling via the favourite apps, and apps created entirely for re-selling like Posh Mark and Depop, these complimentary shopping methods are creating new avenues to connect customers with product. Additionally Stitch Fix, the Bay area fashion tech company now valued at $1.6 billion was the first to offer their consumers personalized digital shopping with a team of stylists who utilize data science and algorithms to recommend clothing based on factors like size and budget.
Style App, a new start up on the Canadian scene launched in 2020 can be described as the Uber of shopping. Connecting customers with wardrobe stylists in their area to shop with them or for them (currently a very digital experience) re-fresh their closets, and navigate the vast and daunting online shopping space. On demand services from food, to cars, and even hair and make- up stylists have been around for years, but wardrobe help and styling have yet to be democratized in this fashion. Until now stylist’s seemed to be the function of the wealthy or influential, even masked in a bit of mystery- perhaps a frivolous notion that it’s unnecessary or perhaps just the basic idea that everyone knows how to dress themselves. Just a thought.
Here we speak with Style App founder Linda Stamko about the gap in the market, her venture into tech, and her mission to help women.
Tell me a little about the gap you saw in the market that you ultimately took the steps to fulfill?I feel most of us have a heightened interest in achieving a personal style that suits us – we all want to look our very best, but find it hard to put an outfit together or don’t have the time to do so. I wanted the expert advice of a Personal Stylist but didn’t know where to find one and knew I couldn’t be the only one with this problem. So, I created Style App to fill this gap in the market. Style App addresses this demand by easily and conveniently connecting you with a personal stylist to shop together. Just like any other aspect of our life, when you need help, you hire a professional. For example, during Covid, I’ve been practicing yoga at home, but it’s not the same as having my instructor tweak my position so I can feel the difference. This is what a personal stylist can do for you – we bring out the best in you.
What interested you in technology to take a leap into a brand new industry? What interested me in technology and to take the leap into the industry is the fact that smartphones are part of our lives and brought the undeniable convenience of finding information that we’ve grown accustomed to. I wanted to bring fashion and technology together but in a more personal way, that is why with Style App you shop with a real personal stylist in-person or virtually for that human touch. I think we’re all tired of shopping alone, especially online, and find it hard to purchase anything that doesn’t end up in disappointment. I envisioned pulling out my phone, easily connecting with a personal stylist, shopping together, and getting my desired look. That is what Style App does – you click and get styled. Style App is the first on-demand styling service and I’m so happy to share it with everyone.
“ I ENVISIONED PULLING OUT MY PHONE, EASILY CONNECTING WITH A PERSONAL STYLIST, SHOPPING TOGETHER, AND GETTING MY DESIRED LOOK. ”
You help to empower women through this on demand/work your own schedule type of career balance why was that important to you? I’m incredibly proud to empower our team of stylists to have the flexibility to work when they want while helping their career balance. As a Mom, I find it very challenging to find a career that balances home and work life, so it’s important to me to help women find positions they’re passionate about while having the flexibility to work their own schedule. Not only is it important for me to help our stylists do what they love when they want, but it is also important for me to help our clients “Look Good, and Feel Good”. Additionally, we are proud to have local stylists from the Greater Toronto Area on the app!
Do you have any favourite features of the app? My favourite feature of the app is the Select a Stylist screen. We have an amazing team of expert stylists to choose from. Clients can see our stylists, view their style specialties, and read more about their styling background. Then the client can choose who to book with or we can pair them with a stylist. We have brought the best stylists to our clients – all in one place and that’s my favourite feature.
As a start up you must always be evaluating and pivoting , how did you adapt in this unprecedented yea? This past year of launching the app has been very challenging. The app was initially designed for our clients to shop in-person with a stylist, however, because of Covid I pivoted to virtual styling. We’ve added two new features to the app: Virtual Shop your Closet/Closet Edit and Shop Online with Screen-sharing. And what we have found is this is a great way to get to know our clients in their own homes and start to build a relationship with them. Everyone has been so isolated that it’s become an event or like a night out for our clients. And with our Closet-Edit, Clients, they are finding new outfits to wear with the clothes they already have. So the pivot has been a blessing.
Are you rolling it out to other cities? Yes, we plan on adding other cities ALL across Canada to shop in-person with a stylist. We plan on adding Vancouver by the end of this year. The good news is anyone in Canada can download Style App and access our Virtual Styling options. That’s the convenience of being an app and having Virtual Styling.