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The Social Retail Summit & Peter Verkooijen – Education w/ @SocialRetailNYC

The Social Retail Summit & Peter Verkooijen – Education w/ @SocialRetailNYC

The Social Retail Summit #5 is taking place on Wednesday July 24th at the DUMBO Loft in NYC.  We have been following the program since it’s inception, and love the learning opportunity founder Peter Verkooijen has built.  The fifth summit will cover ‘how to launch direct-to-consumer brands, build brand value and reinvent offline retail.’

Register now w/ $100 off ticket price, with discount code: OpenSourceFashion

We recently interviewed Peter to get a better sense of where and why this all started!

OS: Where did the inspiration come from to start the Social Retail Summit?

PV: I am originally a journalist for various Dutch trade publications, covering the impact of digital technology on different industries including retail.  I am aware of broad trends in US retail.

From 2006 until early 2012 I organized a monthly meetup in New York for web and mobile startups – ‘networking for post-internet media, advertising and business’. The classic web business model is hitting a wall.

Since 2010 I have launched three semi-annual summit series that are all about connecting the virtual back to reality; in the case of the Social Retail project putting social media to work for customer relations and sales.

OS: Now in it’s fifth round, what has changed the most?

Peter Verkooijen

Peter Verkooijen

PV: The events are getting better…

OS: What have been some of the most challenging aspects of organizing the summits? How have you overcome them?

PV: They are bootstrapped events in a bad economy. I am trying to create value for attendees, speakers and sponsors and come up with a business model and pricing levels that will be sustainable longer term.

OS: What has been one of the most rewarding aspects of working on the Social Retail Summit?

PV: The support and encouragement of attendees, speakers, sponsors and partners.

OS: Do companies/startups reach out to you or do you seek them out to get involved?

PV: Both ways. The project should be guided by what the community wants it to be, but I also want to set the agenda.

OS: What topics are you most excited for to be talked about at the coming summit?

PV: My definition of Social Retail was never about just Facebook stores, more like ‘customer relations for omnichannel retail’.  Reinventing offline retail has been a topic on previous editions. At #5 it will be front and center.

OS: What revenue models for online shopping do you think are trending and why?

PV: Sales connected to content, again offline as well as online. I think there are several startups targeting this. Commerce will get more distributed and syndicated, following content.

OS: What is your definition of omnichannel and why is it important for retailers and brands to embrace it?

PV: The brand and the relationship with the customer is all that matters. The channel can be anything. Offline is no longer just the classic store either; it can be a pop-up, a party, customers as brand agents, whatever.

OS: How would you define your philosophy on failure?

PV: Try hard to avoid it. Stop doing things that fail, do more of the things that work.

OS: Tell me something about yourself unrelated to work, what do you like to do in your down time?

PV: I don’t have down time.

OS: What are some side projects or initiatives you are working on?

PV: The other two projects are Geoweb Forum and Design for Manufacturing Forum, both with semi-annual summits.

OS: What’s your favorite ice cream (or froyo) flavor?  Please include preferred toppings.

PV: Vanilla ice cream, preferably the cheap ‘artificial vanilla flavor’ kind, with real whipped cream (heavy cream + sugar) and dusted with cinnamon or chocolate bits/powder.

OS: Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, or Indie coffee?

PV: Forty Weight, Crop to Cup.

We wish Peter, and the team at The Social Retail Summit a great day of education and collaboration!

REGISTER HERE w/ discount code OpenSourceFashion for $100 off the price of entry!  

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Discussion Series DC: Digital Branding + Content Strategy

Discussion Series DC: Digital Branding + Content Strategy

We have announced our next Discussion Series for DC based Fashion, Retail, and Tech Innovators.   Join us as we gain insight into the world of digital branding.  Building a cohesive and effective content strategy across digital platforms is extremely important when establishing your personal, and business brand identity.

July 16th, 2013
6PM – 9PM
The Dunes DC
1402 Meridian Place NW
OSF Member RSVP $10.00: Meetup.com
Non Member RSVP $20.00: DoItInPerson

July16OSFDC

Confirmed Panelists:

Nikki Rappaport – Digital Marketing for Hugh & Crye

Nikki is a marketing professional, currently working for Hugh & Crye. Hugh & Crye is an online retailer of menswear, based in Washington, DC. They launched in December of 2009, and have quickly become a force in the burgeoning menswear fashion industry. She also hosts her own blog, Cupcakes For Breakfast…which is deliciously beautiful.

Follow Nikki on Twitter: @nikkirap

Nicole Aguirre - Founder, Worn Magazine & Worn Creative.

Worn Magazine is a D.C.-based publication intended to bring greater awareness of fashion and art to the District and to the world. Worn Creative is a boutique creative agency that turns ideas into visually engaging content.

Follow Nicole on Twitter: @WornMagazine

Holley Simmons – Lifestyles Editor, The Washington Post Express & Fashion Washington

Holley compiles weekly style features for The Washington Post’s free commuter daily and its five-times-a-year fashion magazine. She reports on local and national tastemakers in the beauty, home décor, food, and fashion sectors. Holley also has her hand in styling for photo shoots.

Follow Holley on Twitter:  @HolleyUnedited

As always, your RSVP includes light snacks, and insightful conversation.

See you soon!

 

Image Credits: ATM Digital Branding

 

 

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Independent Retailer Conference

Independent Retailer Conference

I’ve always been a believer independent retailers and wholesalers need to lean on each other and select industry supporters to really thrive in their unique goals. While it’s easy to think we can individually “do it all”, the reality is that’s nearly impossible. It’s with this in mind that the Independent Retailer Conference came to life.

Founded by myself and Kerry Bannigan of Nolcha Events, the Independent Retailer Conference will take place May 20, 2013 at the gorgeous Scholastic Auditorium in Soho. This one day, action packed, education rich conference will bring together some of the nation’s leading retail experts, supporters and of course, indie retailers and wholesalers. Attendees from all over the United States will join the Independent Retailer Conference to engage, learn and connect on all things indie retailer.

IndieRetailConfLogo

Some of the key presentations include:

- How to Gain Press (Without Hiring Someone To Do It For You)
- Ways to Maximize Your Store Profits
- Tips on Email Marketing Specific to Indie Businesses
- Technology and APP News for Indies
- Marketing on a Dime (Or For Free)
& much more

All registered attendees will receive a free issue of Retail Minded Magazine, free business cards from MOO.com and many other prizes to help retailers and wholesalers thrive. Additionally, one select attendee will win a trip to Las Vegas for the August ASD Trade Show. Finally – all attendees are invited to join us at Anchor Bar following the conference for networking, complimentary drinks and fun.
Seats are limited, so register today.

Thanks to their wonderful sponsors including Moo.com, Snap Retail, Kabbage, ShopKeep POS and the Retail Council of New York State, they can offer you a huge discount on the $79.95 ticket price, making your price only $29.95.

Independent Retailer Conference
Date: May 20, 2013
Location: Scholastic Auditorium
557 Broadway in Soho

Simply register with code OSFASHION HERE.

Hope to see you on May 20th!

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New School Tech Meets Old School Style in D.C.

New School Tech Meets Old School Style in D.C.

When you think of Washington, D.C., one thing in particular comes to mind: Fashion.

Ok, so that may not be the case currently, but the fashion landscape is definitely changing in our nation’s capital. And in a city where suits rule (most of the time), menswear companies are seizing the opportunity to dress the men at the top.

hugh and crye

Take Hugh and Crye, a DC-based online retailer of better fitting dress shirts. With a charming little showroom/office in Georgetown, they focus on simplifying the choices for guys starting with just one question: what type of body do you have? Depending on whether the guy has skinny, athletic, or broader build, they make the shirt to fit. Ah, sweet relief. Over the past few decades, we somehow managed to get away from a quality product that actually fits us and instead settled for a mass produced product whose price tag wandered far away from the quality that it reflected. Thankfully, a select few are offering up that possibility again.

I’ve been really impressed to see the way some companies have embraced technology. Sure, fashion has taken to technology on the production side, with the development of fabrics that wick moisture from the skin and dyes that activate with sunlight. But the guys at Alton Lane have found a unique way to use technology on the consumer/retail side. You schedule an appointment at their showroom– D.C. was their first showroom outside of NYC– and a lovely staff will guide you over to a 3-D body scanner. It’s a painless process– think of the scanner at airport security except in a living room-type environment and with a full bar complete with rye whiskey on hand.

alton_lane_showroom_dc

Your exact measurements are sent to their factory and you receive your custom-made garment in 4-6 weeks. Overall, a pretty optimal experience for a guy, I would think. These type of bespoke offerings popping up around the US seem novel at first until you realize that it’s the way our grandparents used to dress. A return to our roots.

And while menswear suits and dress shirts have gotten the most attention lately, we can’t forget about the basics. One company in particular, based in DC, has sought to redefine the staple accessories for men, starting with shoelaces. Yes, shoelaces.

redhand shoelaces

Tim Neill of Red Hand got frustrated last year when his shoelaces were 6 inches too long and coming untied all the time. He had had enough. So, armed with a marketing background, and the reassurance that other men were facing the same problem, Tim redesigned the structure of this little element that’s in each of our lives. But he didn’t stop there. Committed to rethinking all of the current offerings on the market, Tim is taking on the undershirt, socks, and belts– with buckles made from old American muscle cars and, yes, they are as awesome as they sound. He strives to be a brand that recognizes what came before, and one that insists on being a driver in the future. And the best part? He’s doing it all in the US.

redhand belts

From Detroit, where Red Hand’s design team is based, and where they find the metal for their belts, to North Carolina for fabric and trim, up to NYC for inspiration, and back to DC for the business, they’ve found a way to maintain every aspect of their production stateside. Tim makes it sound easy, which, being the owner of a women’s apparel company that manufactures a line of luxury robes in the US, I can assure you that it requires a commitment to wading through the at-times antiquated ways this industry has of doing things. Red Hand is mostly able to do this by selling direct to the consumer. So while you’ll only be able to purchase Red Hand products on their website, you can rest assured that the markups are minimal to bring you the best of men’s basics for a reasonable price. My hope? They open a retail shop in DC. But we’ll have to wait on that for now. Tackling the high rent in this city can kill a business and we definitely want this one to thrive.

Red Hand recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to finance the manufacturing of their first products. With rewards like the belt buckle, you can be the first to get your red hands on their products when you donate.

 

OS Fashion hosted a Town Hall Discussion last month in DC on the local retail climate. To attend similar events and join the discussion, become a member of OS Fashion’s DC Chapter here or follow us on Twitter.

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Fast Fashion Finds – February 2013, Pt. 2

Fast Fashion Finds – February 2013, Pt. 2

Open Source Fashion is all about connecting people and making information and resources more easily available to those starting out in the fashion business. These resources include the latest fashion business news and valuable insights for designers and fashion start-ups. Twice a month, OSF Magazine will bring you Fast Fashion Finds, a collection of articles, lists and op-eds curated by OSFashion Founder, Pavan Bahl and Content Coordinator, Alex J. Tunney. For more great articles check us out on Twitter: @osfashion.

Third Wave Fashion || AW13 Fashion Week: Leveraging Digital, Social Media, and Strategic Partnerships by Cyndi Ramirez

These days we’re seeing that it isn’t enough for big fashion brands to create a collection, cast top models, and have them strut down the runway. It also isn’t enough for fashion blogs to simply report on trends and street style. People want more. Increasingly, we’re noticing a demand for digital, innovative coverage. To satisfy this need, more and more traditional fashion labels are putting a spin on fashion reporting by emphasizing the digital developments. This year brands are stepping their tech game up and are coming up with clever, new ways to engage fashion week enthusiasts in and out of the tents.

Third Wave Fashion || The Decoded Fashion Hackathon Finale: The Chats, The Discussions, and Everything Else by Leticia Domenech

Another thing we’re still chewing over was the finale of the Decoded Fashion Hackathon. Throughout the day a number of startups and the finalists of the Hackathon would take minutes to tell the fashion tech world exactly what they were doing, their plans for the future, and their outlook on the industry in general. [...] Held in the Mercedes Benz tents at Lincoln Center, The Decoded Fashion Hackathon finale was a mixture of fur, metallics, arm parties, coding and iPad minis.

Business of Fashion || In the Glare of Fashion’s Growing Circus, A Double Standard? by Vikram Alexei Kansara

It’s no secret that a democratising tide of digital media has brought a radical new accessibility to the global fashion industry, giving rise to a wide range of new voices and transforming what were once closed, industry-facing fashion weeks into large-scale consumer spectacles. Perhaps nowhere is this shift more apparent than in the growing power of street style imagery, which has turned show-goers into virtual actors on a digital stage that’s beamed across the world in realtime to thirsty fashion followers via blogs and social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and, now, Vine. Some have actively courted the attention, peacocking for the cameras, becoming online celebrities and attracting lucrative marketing deals in the process.

StartUp Fashion || Manufacture NY: Domestic Production for Fashion Designers by Nicole Giordano

Manufacture NY is the next generation premiere fashion incubator and vertically integrated production facility for fashion brands. [...] Manufacture New York will provide designers with the resources & skills to streamline their production process, and transform local manufacturing into the most affordable, high-quality option for all.  Bob [Bland] is leveraging a decade of practical experience as an NYC designer to achieve this objective, and is joined by a dynamic team of organizers, including Tara St. James– designer of Study NY & 2011 Ecco Domani winner.

StartUp Fashion || 4 Kinds of Mentors for Fashion Designers by Nicole Giordano

Not too long ago, we wrote about the benefits of having a mentor as you work to start and grow your fashion business.  Mentors are so important because they offer you an objective third party opinion along each step of the way.

A mentor has nothing personally invested in you or your business but instead has plenty of experience in a certain industry that they are willing to share with you.  With that said, you don’t have to stop with having just one mentor in one industry. Think about your needs as a new business and where you could really use some grounding and guidance.

Tweak Your Biz || Twitter for Business: The Ultimate Guide by Sian Phillips

Since Twitter first started in July 2006 it has grown to 500+ million registered members and 140+ million active users worldwide sending out 340 million tweets a day (Twitter stats March 2012). Find out how to best use Twitter for business including getting set up, finding followers, tweeting, managing accounts and marketing.

Tweak Your Biz || Reputation Management and Why You Should Care About It by Craig Barnes

The web has made creating, sharing and finding information a doddle, but is arguably a double-edged sword. The open nature of the internet means it’s easy for negative or unflattering data to quickly eclipse factual or positive items. In the quest for relevancy, search engines are unrelenting in their pursuit of information, so it makes sense to put your best side first. This type of SEO is known as reputation management and can be beneficial for companies and brands of any size.

Inc. || Your Start-Up Needs Some Structure by Karl Stark and Bill Stewart

For a small entrepreneurial company, the lack of a formal organizational structure actually helps the team break down barriers and move quickly to capture the highest-value activities. But once a company reaches a certain threshold, a lack of structure becomes a hindrance to further growth.

Also check out:

There was this great Instagram event held at LIM College. I don’t know if you heard about it, but some great people organized the event! But really, thank you to Melissa Hall for attending an writing up this great recap.

The Emerging Designer || OSF Meetup Recap: Leveraging Instagram to Grow Your Business by Melissa Hall

Instagram. It’s the wildly successful and somewhat addictive platform that allows you to share and filter photos to your liking. For businesses, it’s one way to grow your brand and with their recent announcement of a new status feed combined with third party applications, there are so many ways to use this tool. From a marketing perspective, you can use the platform to help drive sales, execute a contest or even connect with editors, retailers and fans.

Open Source Fashion || DC Town Hall Discussion – Retail & Fashion InTheCapital*

OSF DC members and fashion-minded people in the area:  OS Fashion & The Selected Few have produced an opportunity for you to catalyze change in the District. Join us for a Town Hall Meeting at iStrategy Labs, where we will host a discussion focused on analyzing and improving DC’s retail and fashion industry.

 

Original Image created by dulnan.

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The Naked Truth About Subscription Start-Ups: The Good, The Bad & The Scams

The Naked Truth About Subscription Start-Ups: The Good, The Bad & The Scams

[Opinions held by the contributor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OS Fashion and its members.]

Is there a fundamental flaw in the application of the subscription model to consumer commerce start-ups with physical goods like fashion and CPG (consumer packaged goods) companies? There are some terrific consumer companies like Netflix and Spotify that have proved the viability of subscription models. They have innovative ideas. They create something that people want like streaming movies and music. They disrupt old-fashioned ways of doing things like having to physically go into Blockbuster to rent movies. They created markets and trends, instead of chasing the trend. But when start-ups apply this model without innovative products and branding, they sometimes rely on scams to lure customers and smoke and mirrors style PR to lead people to believe that their company is successful. In fact, you can even argue that most (with a few exceptions) consumer subscription models with physical products are flawed and unnecessary.

Initially subscriptions became popular among VCs because a subscription implied predictable, recurring revenue. Recurring revenue software businesses tend to have better valuation multiples. However, consumer commerce subscriptions with physical products generally should not. The problem is that many of these well funded subscription start-ups engage in deceptive customer acquisition, lack focus on retention and branding, and partake in poor business practices.

 

Just last week, the Science incubator in Los Angeles launched yet another subscription start-up, a company called ELLIE. It offers workout clothes for women with a monthly subscription service. Seriously, who buys workout clothes every month?  I wonder what the people at Science do with their clothes every month. Throw them away? Don’t they do laundry like the rest of us?

Science start-ups have one thing in common: an aggressive emphasis on paid and socially-driven customer acquisition. To build a customer base quickly, ELLIE reportedly engaged in deceptive bait and switch tactics that are downright shocking and unprofessional. Prior to launching ELLIE, the founders launched a company called PvBody which offered customers two pieces of designer fitness apparel from brands like Lululemon, Nike and Under Armour for $39.99 a month. PvBody even offered a 40% promotion via popular fitness blogs like SarahFit.com to lure customers. Over 70 of Sarah Fit’s readers who signed up for the promotion complained about their less than stellar experience: everyone got a notification that PvBody was not going to be sending out the designer brands they promised , but their own brand named ELLIE.

Now, PvBody has been rebranded as ELLIE. ELLIE used the clout of leading brands like Lululemon and Nike to deceptively acquire subscribers while promising those brands instead of its own. These alleged bait and switch tactics – sometimes known as  fraudulent conveyance — were used to create “traction” for ELLIE prior to the brand’s launch. Ironically, ELLIE’s scam was rewarded with $2M from three venture capital  funds. (For more information about ELLIE’s bait and switch scam, read posts at: Complaint ListThe Purple Giraffe and Marathon Lar.)

According to a recent Venture Beat article, “the lack of highly sophisticated tech is becoming part of the Science blueprint.”  Well, Science start-ups don’t have sophisticated branding or product either. Their strategy has been to focus on unnecessary subscription start-ups with vanity customer acquisition proof points. This does not work since a subscription model isn’t a guarantee for long-term recurring revenue or customer retention.  In the case of the Science portfolio company Dollar Shave Club, which raised $9.8M on an exceptionally healthy $30M pre-money valuation in their most recent round, it experienced impressive but very fleeting traction after their extensive paid customer acquisition efforts. Paid customer acquisition is useless if your brand and products cannot retain the customer. Customers will not engage or purchase after being acquired. Good brands and products are capable of organic growth with monthly churn under 4%. Good content and branding make a brand sticky. Retargeting makes a brand stickier. When you have exceptional branding, product and content, customers will discover you.  Then the focus shifts to customer retention.

 

Just as Science’s Dollar Shave Club and Wittlebee don’t solve any problems or offer anything new, Ellie does not either. If someone is merely looking for Lululemon- style activewear at a lower price point, there are plenty of online retailers that offer lower priced workout-wear such as H&M, Gap, Athleta, even Target. Unless new start-ups are offering great products, prices and experiences, they shouldn’t even bother to try to compete with established big brands or e-tailers. What problem are they solving? What is their point of difference? Are they making the process easier? Plenty of online retailers are offering lower prices.

Subscriptions only work when the price, product, quality and user experience are great. If there is a product mix, it must be personalized or expertly curated, not random. Beauty subscription companies have a hard time satisfying customers with their one-size-fits all (non-personalized) boxes of sample products due to different skin types, customer preferences in color cosmetics and fragrance. Following the success of New Beauty & Beautylish, companies like Birchbox are now focused on content and eCommerce. New Beauty’s Test Tube,  the original beauty sample subscription company which launched in 2005 (well before Birchbox’s launch in 2010), works because of its targeted focus on high performance and efficacious luxury skincare and haircare products; every month you get some of the hottest new products coupled with the latest issue of New Beauty magazine, an industry authority. Since they aren’t offering random color cosmetics or fragrances, color and scent preferences aren’t an issue and there’s a higher probability of satisfying the customer.

Birchbox’s beauty and greatest vice is that they don’t pay for products from brands. Although Birchbox, which received $11.9M in venture funding, clearly has the cash to pay for the products, it engages in dangerous business practices which jeopardize the long-term viability of their core business model.  I recently interviewed Suk Chan the founder and CEO of Soukenberi, an eco-friendly home fragrance and bodycare brand.  Ms. Chan said, “Birchbox requested 300,000 units of a product for free; in return, they said that could offer a conservative purchase order of 400 units for that product if it was received well by their sampling audience.” Birchbox also requested a special sample size, which Ms. Chan would need to create, that would yield at least 3 uses of the product. After Ms. Chan negotiated with them, they lowered the amount of requested free product to 75,000 and then to 50,000 units (for a more targeted customer base). Birchbox only wanted to pay for a purchase order of 400 units after receiving 50,000 units for free. Ms. Chan decided not to do business with them since it was clear she wouldn’t get even a 1% return. Beyond a very conservative purchase order, Birchbox cannot quantify a significant return to brands despite their huge subscriber base. This is a flawed, inequitable method of doing business with brands since it puts many brands in financial jeopardy. Having a large subscriber base doesn’t necessarily yield a successful business. A successful business invests in its supplier ecosystem, it doesn’t destroy it.

 

The sad truth is most subscription companies are NOT doing anything special and are just adding unnecessary clutter to the ecosystem and our mailboxes.  That’s not to say that I don’t like any subscription models.  Three fabulous consumer commerce companies with subscriptions that make sense are Barkbox, NatureBox and Lacquerous whose visions go far beyond their initial consumer-facing product.

Lacquerous is the Netflix for luxury nail polish. It offers a 3 nail luxury polishes that are on trend for $18/month which is less than the cost of 1 bottle of luxury nail polish. It’s an affordable option for women who want to experience trendy new colors from luxury brands while spending a fraction of the cost. There is no other way to do this; Lacquerous is definitely innovative and disruptive. Although they just launched a month and a half ago, they are overwhelmed with customers; at the moment, there are 5,000 people on their waiting list to become new Lacquerous members. Why does it work? Nail polish is one of the hottest consumer commerce categories right now. Customers want to discover the trendiest luxury nail polishes at a discount. Lacquerous offers nail polishes from the most premium brands like Tom Ford, Chanel and NARS.  The products are on trend (focused curation), and, more importantly, its customers can choose the colors they want (personalization). It’s a business model that is a WIN for the Lacquerous team, the brands that they work with and its customers.

It’s trickier to apply the subscription model to fashion and consumer packaged goods start-ups. While many tech start-ups end up sacrificing their EBITDA to pursue future growth, future growth is often less obvious with some consumer commerce start-ups.  Where can you go next if you’re Dollar Shave? For a consumer commerce subscription to work: 1) the business model must be viable, and 2) the brand, product and price must be really compelling and perhaps even addictive. It should make life easier, solve a problem or create a new market. In the case of superstar subscription companies like Spotify, they initially earned their subscribers via freemium offerings and then turned many of them into paid subscribers. They succeed because they keep evolving and creating new markets and trends. That should be the goal of every start-up!

NOTE: All l the information in this article was compiled from public information and articles online which are hyperlinked except for one interview I had with Suk Chan, Founder of Soukenberi.

Previously by Sindhya:
My Break Up Letter to (Some) VCs
VCs Think My Boobs Need An Algorithm

Original header image provided by Lacquerous.

Posted in: Vision & Opinion

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Social Retail Summit – NYC Jan 17th

Social Retail Summit – NYC Jan 17th

The small Social Retail Summits taking place every six months in Dumbo, New York, are very different from the average social commerce event. The evening insider conferences go beyond Facebook and Twitter, covering how social media change customer relations in retail, offline and online.

One panel at Thursday’s (Janurary 17thSocial Retail Summit #4 will cover extending the two-way conversation with customers to product development, with panelists Rachel Brooks (Citizen Made), Seph Skerritt (Proper Cloth), Carine Carmy (Shapeways) and Stephan Clambaneva (Dassault).

In their Case presentations Jen Rubio (Warby Parker) and Abe Burmeister (Outlier) will describe how they use social media to build brand value. The Summit has five panels. Other panelists include Claire Mazur (Of a Kind), Angela Min (Snapette) and Robert Gaafar (CropUp). Check out the full schedule with information all the panelists here.

Open Source Fashion readers get a discount on the registration fee by clicking here.

While you’re waiting for the event on Thursday, check out these quick interviews with some of the panelists:

[Left to Right] Panelists speaking at Social Retail Summit in July 2012 featuring: Liza Kindred (Third Wave Fashion), Mark Curtis (Enter:New Media), Jen Rubio (Warby Parker) and David Fudge (Bonobos).

 

Social Retail Forum is a project by Modified Ventures LLC, a post-internet market development company founded by Dutch business and retail industry journalist Peter Verkooijen.

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VCs Think My Boobs Need An Algorithm

VCs Think My Boobs Need An Algorithm

[Opinions held by the contributor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OS Fashion and its members.]

VCs think my boobs need an algorithm. My boobs don’t need an algorithm. If that’s not enough, VCs also think that women need a bra subscription. They gave $2M in seed funding to True & Co., an e-commerce bra company with an algorithm and subscription model. Never mind that the clear majority of women don’t buy bras every month. This start-up’s algorithm involves answering questions online for about 3 minutes that’s not only boring and painful but also futile. The algorithm, like the brand’s name, is ridiculous. An algorithm cannot provide you with a better fit just as answering questions online cannot help you find the best pillow for your preferences. Some products need to be touched and tried on. An algorithm cannot account for technological advancements like soft stretch in bra straps, seamless fits, softer lace with stretch, and good quality padding that isn’t cheap and itchy. Finally, as a lingerie brand, this start-up lacks fun and sexy branding. There’s a place for an algorithm–it isn’t my bra. VCs simply don’t understand consumer psychology, consumer purchasing patterns and what it takes to build a great brand or product. It seems as if they think consumer tech is easy and that anyone can do it. This misunderstanding is a big problem, and VCs are screwing up the ecosystem.

Charlie O’Donnell (@ceonyc), a VC at Brooklyn Ventures, recently tweeted in reply to Sanjay Raman (@sanjayraman), a VC at Greylock Ventures:

(more…)

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OSFashion Announces DC Chapter!

OSFashion Announces DC Chapter!

Open Source Fashion is launching a DC Chapter and we’re doing it in style!

Open Source Fashion started in New York City in April 2011. We have cultivated a community of helpful innovators, and we are going to do the same in DC!

The idea of the OSF Meetup group is to bring like minded people together to openly share ideas, contacts, and expertise with each other for the benefit of the entire meetup community, and our individual projects.

For our first event, we are excited to bring you an opportunity to learn from Holly Thomas, Editor of Refinery29 in DC! Refinery29 is an online platform that connects a fast-growing audience of users with content, commerce, and community, giving them all the tips, tricks, and tools they need to live a more beautiful life – and share it with the world.

Join us as we pick Holly’s mind!

If you represent a brand or business - We will uncover what it takes to be noticed by one of the most prominent lifestyle media outlet on the planet!

For anyone publishing content regularly – Learn how to engage your reader, and best practices in regards to distributing your content!

This is an incredible opportunity to learn, and network with follow innovators in the DC Metro area.

RefineryDCHolly E. Thomas is the D.C. editor for Refinery29, a global platform for exploring and discovering personal style. As editor, she covers all things stylish, fun, and cool in Washington, D.C. Before joining Refinery29, she was a reporter at The Washington Post, where she reported on fashion, consumer interests, and the local creative scene. Holly co-founded Butler & Claypool, a vintage retail and design collective, in 2010, and spends her free time scouring for vintage treasures, hosting pop-up shops, and dreaming up DIY projects.

Join our DC Meetup Group to RSVP!

 Personal twitter: @hollyt81
Professional twitter: @refinery29 // @butlerclaypool
www.refinery29.com
www.butlerandclaypool.com

 


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Set Fashion Free: Unveiling an E-Commerce Innovation

Set Fashion Free: Unveiling an E-Commerce Innovation

How many times have you gone into a department store and felt like nothing fits your personal style? Nowadays, the intimate nature of fashion can be felt when you connect with a color or fabric, a designer collection, and the story your outfit tells about you. Of course it may be a wonder where to create such personalized looks, if it cannot be bought on the racks. With more and more e-commerce businesses coming online, it was just a matter of time before some innovator would take on the challenge of personalizing the process of finding the perfect outfit. At ThunderLily.com, this advancement in fashion design has come to life by allowing consumers to build their own looks.

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ThunderLily.com is the first e-commerce marketplace for consumers to create and personalize style like never before. Allowing consumers made to order looks is the unique value of ThunderLily. It is easy to pick from or create a pattern, choose the ideal color and fabric, and in less than a few weeks wear your very own look. There is much more to ThunderLily than just creating a personalized outfit – so OSFashion went behind the scenes to tell their story in this exclusive feature with Clare Tattersall, Creative Director and CEO.

When asked why she started ThunderLily.com, Clare stated, “I have a vision, which is clear; help consumers find looks they love, with proportions they feel comfortable in, while also creating an affordable resource for designers to make samples and muslins.” She tells us her vision behind ThunderLily is to create a free online workspace for designers across the globe, where they can log in and get creative as they like, then take designs to an online mall full of consumers seeking out personal style. From the beginning ThunderLily had the goal to empower individuals, from designers to suppliers, on up to the consumer.

Respecting the hard work and expertise it takes to create wearable fashion, Clare says she is on the ground floor as both a designer and consumer, understanding the investment that comes with each. “Since both sides of fashion are quite costly and time consuming, I was inspired to solve a problem for people much like me,” she said. Starting her career as a designer was arduous, from looking for a studio to house her fabrics, to finding fashion design software that was suitable for her budget. By providing tools for a designer to be as creative as they wish, on their own terms, Clare says here software will make life easier on the budget conscious fashion start-ups.

On the flip side, Clare says “the same tools provided at ThunderLily.com can also benefit the consumer, by allowing exciting fashion and fabrics from the most innovative designers.” A variety of looks are one of a kind handcrafted custom-made fashion. By allowing consumers access to something off the racks, Clare thinks this keeps them feeling chic, stylish and memorable. She tells us that for ThunderLily to remain competitive in the digital space, the fashion must appeal to the consumer, as that increases the value to the designers who create these unique looks.

Some of Clare’s personal favorite designers are right on ThunderLily.com. She tells us her wardrobe accommodates many great designs and styles. Browse a few of her favorite fashion designers or meet Clare at her upcoming event: Set Fashion Free. The conference kicks off January 10th, where ThunderLily will be unveiling free 3-D fashion software to select members of the garment and fashion industry.

Connect with Clare on Facebook to learn more about her free design software and plans to set fashion free. If you are like me, tired of the racks on rack on racks of stuff I won’t wear at the department store, then go to ThunderLily.com and create a personalized look this season.

*Erika is teaching an SEO intensive class on Skillshare, focused on optimizing your Fashion Blog.  Details: SEO In Style

Have questions? Ask Erika on twitter, @elmconsulting

Posted in: Fashion Tech

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