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Fast Fashion Finds – April 2013, Pt. 2

Fast Fashion Finds – April 2013, Pt. 2

Open Source Fashion is all about connecting people and making information and resources more easily available to those working in fashion and retail. These resources include the latest business news and valuable insights for designers, retailers, 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 follow us on Twitter: @osfashion.

Business of Fashion || Retail Recon: Inside Warby Parker’s First Offline Flagship by BoF Team

Now, after experimenting with a series of successful “shop-in-shops” and showrooms in several US cities, Warby Parker is making its first major push into offline commerce, with the launch of a physical flagship at 121 Greene Street, smack in the heart of New York’s Soho district.

When BoF visited the new store, three days after it opened to the public, it was already buzzing with a fleet of uniformed sales-staff and people of all ages, both locals and visitors, trying on eyeglasses and exploring the airy space. The deep, high-ceilinged interior was flooded with light and, on each side of the store, the walls were lined with 18-foot-high shelves displaying the brand’s fashionable frames, interspersed with a curated selection of books from independent, artsy imprints.

Business of Fashion || Op-Ed: Racial Diversity on the Runway by Demi Sinclair

This isn’t about filling a quota. It’s about getting global brands to recognize that when they send an all-white cast down the runway, they are promoting an ideal of beauty that does not include the majority of the world’s population. This is problematic. It’s not only troubling from a business perspective. It’s also a social issue. And the bottom line is, a casting director is simply not doing their job right if they cannot see beauty or relevance in models of color.

Fashion’s Collective || Should Brands Get Tangled Up in Vine? by Elizabeth Canon

Vine is proving successful amongst sketch comedians, illustrators and filmmakers, (Tribeca Film Festival has even launched a film-making contest on Vine, using the #sixsecfilms hashtag), but for fashion and luxury brands the main challenge is how raw the final video appears.

The level of artistic control and polish are virtually non existent on Vine, which means that in order for your brand to be successful you either need a well defined personality and strong point of view that has proven successful on social media, and/or you need a campaign concept that is intended to strip away (or re-define) a prestige brand image.

StartUp Fashion || How to Grow Your Fashion Brand’s Pinterest Channel by Kathleen Ong

There have been many articles, tips and advice, and general how-to guides out there for why your brand should have a presence on Pinterest. As the third largest social media channel after Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest is a great channel for brands within visual industries to use as a tool for creating an online community. As a designer you can create boards to showcase your collections, design inspiration, and other topics that fit your brand identity.

So now that you’ve set up a Pinterest account and have started to pin away, what are some things that you can do to grow your brand’s Pinterest channel?

StartUp Fashion || Self-Repairing Fabric in Fashion by Jane Hamill

Developers have created a new kind of smart fabric: a plastic textile that automatically repairs itself when ripped. Self-repairing material is not an entirely new concept, having been used in conjunction with substances such as metal. However, this is the first instance the idea has been applied to fabric. Originally purposed for use in rainwear for professional fisherman, this new self-repairing fabric technology could potentially benefit all kinds of outerwear.

Retail Minded || 3 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid by Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle

While email marketing may seem old school compared to Tweeting, texting and uploading pics to Instagram, it still tops customer preferences for gaining useful insight on retailer sales, promotions, events and more. Plus, it’s affordable to do – which any business owner can appreciate it.

Retail Minded || Keep Customers Loyal & Make More Money by Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle

So often, retailers are worried about getting new customers that they forget to care about their existing customers. This type of mentality can lead to a lack of customer retention – and possibly even worse, a bad reputation. The question of “why” this happens is still a mystery, though. If someone has shown you interest in your store, made a purchase or even multiple purchases and possibly even signed up for your email list / loyalty program, then why would a retailer NOT cater more to this crowd?

A study by Deloitte Consulting found that businesses that track their customer loyalty are 60% more profitable than other companies. 60%! What does that number mean to you? Even if you want your business to increase 5% this year (though more never hurts), consider leaning on your existing customers to help you grow your business.

Entrepreneur|| Startup Survival 101: It’s All About Relationships That Work by Martin Zwilling

Most entrepreneurs, and members of any small team for that matter, naively assume that the key to their success is hard work, dedication and long hours at the business. In reality, their effectiveness is usually more related to how well they develop their work relationships with peers and business leaders.

First, they need to decipher correctly every relationship as a workship, friendship or foe.

Inc. || 5 Things You Should Never Do on Facebook by Marla Tabaka

Facebook has become an indispensable tool for business. Why? Yes, because there are a billion people interacting there. Also because your friends, relatives, and most importantly, your competition, are interacting–creating great relationships and building trust–in this global community.

Did you know that Facebook is primarily a consumer-driven community? And most of them are savvy enough to smell (and block) a disingenuous marketer a mile away. We asked author and speaker Brian Basilico for his top five Facebook “don’ts” for your business.

Tweak Your Biz || Don’t Let The Internet Take Over Your Business! by Lewis Evans

It’s so convenient, isn’t it? It’s the first thing you’re drawn to every morning. It pervades your life via your desktop and mobile devices. It sucks you in. After all, it’s your life-support system and it has all the answers. Or does it?

Undoubtedly, the Internet does hold a lot of answers, but how we use it and the expectations we have of it are key.

Increasingly, I see that we’re becoming expert at providing and consuming ‘light’ information on the web. As Internet marketing and interconnectivity become more sophisticated, we are bombarded with half-useful information that never quite gets translated into practical improvements in our business. It consumes a lot of time, while seducing us with fascinating infographics, pictures, videos and never-ending threads.


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OSF Contributor Liza Kindred, of Third Wave Fashion, was featured and quoted in an article about consumer data collection from The High Low. José de Cabo of Olapic makes an appearance as well!

The High Low || Digital Data Collection and How to Do it Right by Susannah Edelbaum

We spoke to Liza Kindred, founder of Third Wave Fashion, a consulting company which works with entrepreneurs on top-to-bottom branding strategies and specializes in compelling fashion tech start-ups.  First and foremost, Kindred says, “One crucial thing to bear in mind when collecting data is privacy.”  To that end, “Incremental data collection,” done in a way “that’s respectful of consumers’ comfort levels, is an important way for companies to get the information they need.”  To do this right, the approach needs to be direct and social on one side and behind the scenes on the other.

Original Image created by Dave Bleasdale.

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Fast Fashion Finds – March 2013, Pt. 2

Fast Fashion Finds – March 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 || Your Startup Needs To Host More Events. Here’s Why…  by Leticia Domenech

We all love a good party. There’s nothing better than great horde’euvres, some refreshments, and plain ol’ good company. Interestingly enough, these features are typically what makes a business/networking event so successful. So why is it that so many startups choose not to host events? It’s an interesting paradigm but we’re siding with ‘you should definitely be hosting more events.’

Third Wave Fashion || Major Brands Are Adopting Startup Strategies And Here’s Why by Leticia Domenech

Here at Third Wave Fashion, we understand the amount of research and preparation that goes into launching a successful startup. There are trends to discover and analyze, as well as previous business models to dissect — from all the things that worked to all the things that fell short. Not every great idea will translate into a solid business. VentureBeat coined the term, ‘Enthusiasticus Founder Syndrome’ (we’re not kidding) wherein a novice entrepreneur allows the enthusiasm of his or her idea to take over, and ignores the critical mistakes of inexperience. Other times that isn’t the case at all. There are plenty of fashion tech startups whose business models are so effective and downright innovative that even major brands have adopted their models into their older, more mature fashion tech functions.

Fashion’s Collective || Insider Access: Q&A with Cannon Hodge, Bergdorf Goodman by FC Staff

Cannon Hodge: I’m really fond of twitter and how it’s given Bergdorf Goodman’s single New York address such an instant connection to the world.  From the very first tweet we knew we wanted to create a human connection – Bergdorf can be overwhelming so we knew this would be the place to show the store’s personality.  That said, we still wanted to provide the best customer service possible (it’s a matter of pride for us) – so I make a point to read every tweet and mention and respond when applicable.  The entire company is attuned to how quickly twitter unfolds, so we have a rule that any customer service issue must be answered within an hour.

Business of Fashion || First Person | Brian Atwood Says Never Compromise on What You Love by Tommye Fitzpatrick

“Key” to his growth has been listening closely to customer feedback, says Atwood. “Talking to your customer at your stores and seeing what the customer’s buying, I think that is so important. [Because] what are you going to do, just have a store full of shoes and not sell any?”

So what has he learned? “It’s not only 20-year-olds who want a six-inch heel,” he says. But conversely, “some women don’t want or can’t walk in the high heels. That’s something we’re responding to very quickly. They like the fun fashion shoe — on a sensible heel, sometimes. Sensible…[it’s] not in my vocab, but we do it. I’m learning.”

He also interacts with customers directly online. “Sometimes I’ll tweet and say, ‘Guys, I need names for shoes, send me names,’ and I’ll have 1,000 names, which really helps me out when I’m thinking,” he says. “It’s fun to see the reaction, and you’re not giving up the luxury, you’re just putting it out there and getting more followers.”

Business of Fashion || The Fashion Industry (Still) Has an Image Problem by Imran Amed

As beautiful as fashion imagery can be, the so-called ‘dream’ that the industry projects can lead to unhealthy behaviour. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Today’s models weigh 23 percent less.Would the industry ever be able to change and step outside these ideals? I wasn’t sure.

StartUp Fashion || Success in the Fashion Industry is Relative by Nicole Giordano

Success in the fashion industry is whatever you want it to be. Yes, the fashion industry is tough. And yes, just like anything else worth pursuing it takes a lot of hard work to build a business and become profitable. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And it surely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go after you want. When I hear people talk about being successful, so many concentrate on making exorbitant amounts of money. Don’t get me wrong, this can obviously count as success. But so can making a living spending your days doing exactly what you love.

Retail Minded || 5 Things to Consider Before Purchasing a POS by Jason Richelson

Your POS system should be easy to set up and simple to use. You’ll want a POS system with an intuitive interface to process sales quickly and keep lines moving. Training cashiers and managers should take minutes, not hours. Managing inventory should be straightforward and painless. Remember that any POS system that’s confusing to learn or complicated to use will decrease employee satisfaction and waste time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Tweak Your Biz || Super Advertising Via Social Networks: Amazing Ways To Leverage Customers And Sales by Maria Lynette

Which factor measures the success of a few companies while others falter? The reasons vary. But, most often the prime reason behind the failure of most companies is the poor marketing and advertising campaigns they have tried on social media sites. Well, leave the ones that faltered, but consider the ones that have succeeded with their exceptional campaigns. Trying the tricks they have followed would give a deeper insight, which in turn allows you to come up with an interesting advertising strategy yourself.

Inc. || 5 Lessons From 361 Start-ups by John Harthorne

MassChallenge founder and CEO John Harthorne explains what early-stage entrepreneurs can take away from the experiences of more than 350 start-ups that have participated in his annual $1 million global start-up competition and accelerator program since 2010.

Inc. || The Only 2 Words an Innovator Needs to Know by Howard A. Tullman

The key to successful and ongoing innovation is simple. You need a perfectly clear understanding of the two concepts that define the process: mistakes and failures. Understanding and discussing these two ideas correctly in every conversation about innovation is crucial to your focus, clarity and momentum.


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Our friends over in DC, The Tailored Man, were featured in The Washington Post.

The Washington Post || Alexandria tailor weaves custom solution for taking orders by Abha Bhattarai

It takes 25 measurements, including the circumference of a client’s ankles, for Sanjay Daswani to design a suit. By the time he is done, there are numbers upon numbers to calculate and crunch.

All those numbers add up to data, and Daswani, vice president of operations for The Tailored Man, has found a way to weave the information together, in hopes that it will help the Alexandria-based business become savvier about marketing and anticipating customers’ needs.

Meanwhile our friends at L+C featured our other friends, The Vanity Project, in a recent article:

Lifestyle + Charity || The Vanity Project – Finance to Fashion and Philanthropy In Between by Danielle Valente

These graphics represent “TVP’s” mission: to create non-profit apparel that “people would actually want to wear,” compared to oversized, unappealing tee shirts typically given out at charity events. It donates 51% of proceeds to the organizations it represents.

The meaning behind the clothes is just as significant as the story behind its Northwestern University co-founders, both of whom stumbled into the industry somewhat untraditionally

Even though Sochol’s family participated in service work throughout his life, he never thought he’d work with non-profits full-time, until several experiences swayed him away from the life in corporate America he had originally imagined.


Original Image created by Elena (on Flickr).

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Fast Fashion Finds – March 2013, Pt. 1

Fast Fashion Finds – March 2013, Pt. 1

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.

Fashion’s Collective || SxSW Survival Guide by FC Staff

It’s that time again: when the city of Austin is overtaken with the madness and mayhem of SxSW. In many ways (OK, in every way), the experience can be a bit overwhelming. At any given moment there are dozens of panels, presentations and events to choose from. Since SXSW doesn’t yet allow us to filter the plethora of activities based on our industry, we created a way to do it– by publishing our own SxSW Survival Guide, which includes a curated list of the panels we think are most applicable for our industry.

Third Wave Fashion || 16 Twitter Handles That Are Sure To Keep You In The Know Of Everything @ SXSW by Leticia Domenech

It’s finally here. All week long we’ve been building up to this moment. From the hottest fashion tech startups participating at SXSW to the 7 SXSW events you cannot afford to miss, we made sure you know exactly where to be in the coming week. We, for one, can’t be happier to finally be in our sky-high cowgirl boots, chewing on straw and talking tech. But our coverage of all things South by isn’t over just yet. We want everyone to feel like they’re included in all the festivities because SXSW and Third Wave Fashion are firm believers of growing our fashion tech network.


Business of Fashion || Top 10 Fashion Films of the Season by the BOF Team

Fashion label Vena Cava recently released a hiliarious spoof film to promote its diffusion line “Viva Vena!” which gets at everything that’s wrong with far too many fashion films: slow, dramatic music; models gazing dreamily at the camera; and rambling narratives that don’t really say anything. Many of these unfortunate clichés are rooted in the misallocated budgets and entrenched politics that stem from the print-centric culture that has long dominated fashion media. But times are changing and brands are learning.

Overall, it has to be said, it was a lacklustre season for fashion film, with few genuinely new ideas or approaches. But the most successful films broke away from the old template, embracing the unexpected plots, quirky music and bursts of humour that resonate with online audiences.

Business of Fashion || Au Revoir Fashion’s Night Out by the BOF Team

It seemed like a good idea, and for a short while it was: for one night of the year, in balmy September, stores along New York’s Fifth Avenue, Lower Broadway and in the city’s Meatpacking district — everyone from high-end brands like Gucci and Stella McCartney to mid-market names such as Ann Taylor and Guess — stayed open late into the night, welcoming would-be-shoppers and treating them like VIP’s, or at least like part of the otherwise impenetrable fashion community.To this end, designers and hired celebrities appeared in stores and mingled with guests while deejays and free drinks provided the setting of a surprisingly democratic fashion party. Goodie-bags were handed out and — in a laudable effort — forty percent of the proceeds from special FNO-branded merchandise sold during the event went to the New York City AIDS Fund.

Yet today’s announcement, in WWD, that until further notice Fashion’s Night Out will no longer take place in American cities suggests that all that fun may have come at too high a cost.

Retail Minded || 3 Reasons to Use Mobile In Your Retail Biz by Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle

If you are a retailer who needs to get things done fast– yet still efficiently– while also reaching a broad network of consumers, it’s time to consider how mobile may be incorporated into your business. While implementing mobile may not happen overnight, working towards it should be your goal. Not only can mobile support help you reach and sell to more customers, it can also help you in your store operations.

StartUp Fashion || What Boutique Retailers Can Learn from the Big Guys? by Dominique Leger

Staying current and ahead of your competition as a boutique retailer is a full time job all in itself. It’s important to keep up to date with what your nearest competitors are doing, but checking out what’s happening with major brands and large, well established retailers will keep you going in the right direction and inspire some new ideas.

Tweak Your Biz || 7 Ways To Improve The Visibility Of Your Blog by Dawn Altnam

With so many websites on the Internet, it can feel like rising in the ranks, increasing traffic and building your brand is an uphill battle. Fortunately, you’re not alone. Others have been, and are going, through the same journey. We’ve got some advice to impart to you on yours. Every time you write a blog post, make sure you incorporate these methods.

Inc. || 14 Revealing Interview Questions by Jeff Haden

Interview questions: Everyone has them. And everyone wishes they had better ones. So I asked smart people from a variety of fields for their favorite interview question and, more importantly, why it’s their favorite and what it tells them about the candidate.

Betabeat || Is This Men’s Shaving Service The Next Thing From Warby Parker? by Nitasha Tiku

The “pre-launch” page for new start-up called Harry’s features a handsome image of a razor emblazoned with an “H” logo and the slogan, “RESPECTING THE FACE AND WALLET. SINCE LIKE… RIGHT NOW.” Sign up to learn more and you’ll be directed to what looks like a package deal on shaving supplies, including the historically-named “Truman Handle” and the “Winston Shave Set” How mid-century! But why not just label it the Don Draper special?

According to a source, Harry’s is actually tied up with the marketing experts at Warby Parker. Jen Rubio, head of social media at the eyeglass retailer, shared the site on her Facebook page with the message, “Remember in 2010 when I said Warby Parker was going to be big? This is kinda like that.”

TechCrunch || Want To Build A $1B Consumer Company? by Jacob Mullins

With the recent talk about the growing “billion-dollar club” in startups, I’ve been wondering, as a Series A investor, what characteristics a $1 billion consumer tech company has. I examined the pool of consumer companies that have had exits over $100 million within the current era of consumer tech, which I consider to be post-recession 2008. I wanted to see what I could learn and ideally reverse-engineer common characteristics that would help me identify the next big winners when I see them today or in the future.

The Emerging Designer || Fashion and Technology Exhibition at FIT by Melissa Hall

Fashion and Technology, an exhibition running through May 8 at the Museum at FIT shows the impact of technology over the past 250 years to present day and poses the question as to what technology is while showing how it has changed culture.

On display, you’ll see how the manufacturing industry was impacted with the introduction of the sewing machine and jacquard loom, which allowed the masses to have access to woven textiles, something that was originally available only to the wealthy.

Original Image created by Jason Dean.

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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.

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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.

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Fast Fashion Finds – February 2013, Pt. 1

Fast Fashion Finds – February 2013, Pt. 1

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 || IFBcon: Blogs, Brands and the Business of It All by Kellie Friedman

Founded in 2007, Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB) is a self-funded organization that cultivates a community for fashion bloggers to share their experiences. With over 55,000 active members, IFB has become the go-to source for insider tips and industry information.

For the past couple of years, founder Jennine Jacob and the IFB team have been hosting a twice-yearly conference for bloggers. IFBcon is a two-day event, scheduled around New York Fashion Week, that brings together bloggers from around the world to network and learn from the best. Expert panels, brand presentations, and sponsor demos, are just a few of the exciting events that take place during the conference.

Since TWF is lucky enough to have bloggers on the team, we were able to attend the event and soak it all up. With six different panels of experts, there was a lot of advice and memorable information presented. We’ve narrowed down the day’s events to give you an all-encompassing recap.

Third Wave Fashion || NYFW Fall 2013: 5 Tech Things You Should Expect to See by Cyndi Ramirez

here’s nothing more exciting – and exhausting – for a fashionista than fashion week (or month if you’re a sought-after editor, blogger, or buyer that has to attend every show under the sun). As things kick off here in NYC, we thought it’d be a good idea to share some predictions that we believe (and already know) will happen this #NYFW.

Now, as many of you know, we don’t report on fashion trends per se, but we are all about predicting what digital trends — especially the ones we see emerging as the models strut down the runway. Here are just a few that we predict will be happening during NYFW Fall 2013.

The Emerging Designer || 6 Insider Tips for Your DIY Public Relations Campaign by Melissa Hall

Sabina Ptacin, President of Red Branch PR and Co-Founder of ‘Preneur and Danika Daly, Founder of Danika Daly PR, know a thing or two about public relations. As publicists, they work with emerging designers to not only pitch their business in hopes of media placement, but to also grow their band. At The Emerging Designer Meetup, they shared their best PR 101 tips to make the process easier and manageable for those doing their own DIY PR efforts.

Business of Fashion || India Inc. | Following the Thread of India’s Artisans by Bandana Tewari

Living in India, it’s not difficult to see the magic that lies in the country’s artisanal crafts and textiles. From the foothills of the Himalayas to the tip of Kanyakumari, there is tremendous variation. We wear them with ease, in a terrific mix of drapes and silhouettes. And we wear them everywhere: to family get-togethers and grand dinners alike.Indeed, the Indian thread is something of an arterial lifeline that connects the spirit of this vast nation. And though the “Made in India” brand hasn’t been cultivated, protected or promoted nearly as much as “Made in France” or “Made in Italy,” it’s no secret that many of the top international fashion brands use Indian craftsmen.

StartUp Fashion || 4 Ways a Fashion Designer Can Build a Relationship with a Retailer by Dominique Leger

Sometimes it’s just as difficult to be noticed by a retailer as it is to find a needle in a haystack or a lucky four leaf clover. You need to be different and stand out from the rest but you don’t want to risk being brushed off for shouting ‘pick me pick me pick me!’ over and over again.

LinkedIn || Will Software Eliminate Physical Retail? Not Quite by Reid Hoffman

Software will not replace all offline retail, but will be used instead to transform certain offline retail experiences. Software can bring more customers to the stores, increase conversion in the store, reduce overall costs for the retailer via better analytics on supply and demand, and– for the customer– create a radically better real life shopping experience.

Retail Minded || Optimizing Your Online Outreach by Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle

Let’s face it, most consumers are online in some way or another. Many are online more than anywhere else – such as in your physical stores. Third parties across the nation can help support you in your online goals, but sometimes that simply is not in the budget– and we get that. Here are a few tips you can apply to your business today that can help your online existence thrive.

Tweak Your Biz || Email Marketing Has The Nut Hand At The Marketing Poker Table by Lindsey Harper Mac

In email marketing, less is more. Sending unwanted, too-frequent emails is the quickest way to lose subscribers. Email marketing is the most personal venue for online business communication and you shouldn’t impose on a subscriber’s interest in your business. They signed up for your subscription somewhat attracted to your business or something you offered. That doesn’t mean you can have free reign. Practice restraint. But, more importantly, give subscribers an easy way out.

Inc. || Tech Trends: New Ways to Connect by John Brandon

When I hand out business cards at trade shows and other events, I always wonder if they’ll end up on the bottom of someone’s bag–or, worse, in the trash. Over the years, I’ve tried several smartphone apps designed to exchange contact information, but many of them work only if both people have the software installed. Recently, I tried out two promising alternatives, near-field communication and QR codes, at the L.A. Auto Show.

Original Image created by Ben Sutherland.

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OSF Discussion Recap: Instagram for Brands

OSF Discussion Recap: Instagram for Brands

Taking place within the Fashionopolis room with The Townhouse building of LIM’s campus, Open Source Fashion hosted it’s first discussion series and event of 2013 on Tuesday (Febuarary 5th). Focusing on how the speakers’ companies and the brands they work with use Instagram, the featured speakers for the discussion were: Jose de Cabo of Olapic, Brian DiFeo and Anthony Danielle of The Mobile Media Lab and Erica Lavelanet and David Pena of LP Fashion Philosophy

Starting off with hour of networking, attendees and speakers came in from the snow and the cold to mingle before the discussion started. Dr. Dudley Blossom, Associate Dean of Experiential Education & Career Management at LIM College, welcomed the OSFashion, speakers and attendees to the college. Dr. Blossom hoped that the speakers, many of them entrepreneurs in their field, not only saw LIM as a great place to hold these type of events but also a place where they could find potential interns and employees already trained to understand the business of fashion and ready to work.  LIM is a great place for professionals to invest in their business of fashion education through their graduate studies programs!

Olapic Logo

Jose de Cabo introduced himself as one of the co-founders of Olapic, the sponsor of the night’s event and explained briefly about what Olapic does. Olapic is a social photo crowd-sourcing service. One of the great features of Olapic is capturing conversations and images of your brand form Twitter and Instagram and bringing them to your site. Jose explained that photos from the online community often drive more traffic to brands than images create by the brand itself. The duo from LP introduced themselves as stylists for brands, bands and individual clients. They also run a style blog. The duo from TMML helps brands market themselves by pairing them with Instagram power-users and Instagram related events.

Here is a summary of some key points discussed:

  • Instagram can be a great way to create and shape an identity for a brand. Erica and David of LP are their brand, so their followers are following the brand because they also want to follow the people working at LP. On Instagram, the two showcase their work and also some behind the scenes shots.
  • “You get what you put into it.”:  You can just post pictures on Instagram, but there is also great value in interacting with other users. When you engage with users, they are more likely to engage with you.
    • If you use photos from the community, credit the user. Using community photos is a great way to give back.
    • TMML uses a 70 / 30 time split on Instagram.  70% interacting with others, 30% posting to their own profiles.
  • Instagram is great for event coverage. You can create and curate a gallery of the event or do live printing of images to extend the life of event. Olapic technology allows event organizers show off attendee Instagram images in near real-time at events.
    • Live events are a great way to get the community around a brand engaged offline.
  • Avoid paragraphs of hashtags when tagging photos. Instead be general or be really specific (such as creating your own hashtag.) You can sometimes just use hashtags to give your brand and photos personality, #forrealz.
  • Check out these apps and sites for analytics and image editing recommended by the panelists and audience: Nitrogram, Statigram and Instaeffects.
  • Don’t just post random photos on your Instagram feed. People appreciate quality shots.
  • Conversation: Do you take down a photo or leave it up if it’s bad or not getting attention?
  • Have a few solid social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) that your brand uses, don’t jump on to every new platform that comes out.
  • Think about how you are using Instagram: Are you using it to sell your product or for attention towards your brand. Which is more important?
  • Online audience can often tell if marketing something feels forced or somewhat organic.

The ideas and engagement was active. Attendees connected with each other and downloaded the recommended apps during and after the discussion. Of course, people were also networking face-to-face before and an hour after the discussion.


Join us on Meetup to learn about the next NYC event in the Open Source Fashion discussion series.

Special Thanks to LIM College, Olapic, and Justin Lee Images!
View event images by Justin Lee Images on our Facebook Page here.

Follow us:
Instagram – @limcollege @JCabo80 @bridif @takinyerphoto @davieanderica @osfashion
Twitter – @limcollege @Olapic @bridif @takinyerphoto @MMLNYC @davieanderica @osfashion

Header image by Justin Lee Images

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Fast Fashion Finds – January 2013, Pt. 2

Fast Fashion Finds – January 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.

Forbes || Guide To NYC Fashion Week by Michelle Doucette

Whether you’re sartorially savvy or the polar opposite of a fashionista, the high drama and sheer talent at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York—both inside and outside the tents—is a sight to behold. As designers from around the world prepare to debut their fall 2013 collections at Lincoln Center between Feb. 7 and 14, our Startle.com editors have been curating a collection of the best things to do and top-notch places to stay if you’re heading there to be part of the glitz and glamour.

Oh nice! A mention of Nolcha Fashion Week!

Independent Fashion Bloggers || Fashion GPS Radar Delivers NYFW Directly to Your Mobile by Amanda Boyce

Everything that you’ve heard about fashion week is probably true. It’s exhilarating, hectic, vibrant, and so jampacked with events that your head will literally pop off. But there is a way to keep calm and stay cool throughout fashion’s busiest time and it’s all in your mobile device and Fashion GPS’s updated Radar app.

The leader in fashion and digital, Fashion GPS’s Radar app is a fashion blogger’s ultimate tool for navigating the shows, events and parties during Fashion Week.

Business of Fashion || Fashion 2.0: Online Vintage Heats Up by Lauren Sherman

For nearly 20 years, eBay has been the dominant player in the market for vintage clothing and accessories. Now, a slew of start-ups are poised to disrupt the business of online fashion resale.

The last quarter of 2012 saw a veritable avalanche of activity in the space, including the launch of no fewer than five notable online vintage sites: Byronesque, Bib and Tuck and Nifty Thrifty in October; Vaunte and Shop Hers in November. That same month, online fashion juggernaut ASOS took a 30 percent stake in the year-old, pre-owned designer fashion site Covetique, while in December, leading luxury goods marketplace 1stdibs raised a $42 million Series B round from Index Ventures, Spark Capital and Benchmark.

So why the sudden surge of activity?

Fashion’s Collective || 3 Major Hurdles Brands Face Launching Ecommerce in China by Cece Liu

Despite the lack of a functional shipment and payment infrastructure, Chinese companies have invested heavily in e-commerce in the past decade and have created an online demand worth hundreds of billions of dollars. However, while the path has been forged and consumers have been educated to purchase goods online, western brands who want a piece of this tremendous market will discover that the lay of the land is unlike what they’ve experienced in the US or Europe.

Luxury Society || 2013 Luxury Industry Predictions from the Experts by Sophie Doran

But what does all this mean for luxury in 2013? How will the Chinese consumer change the game? How will the price of precious metals impact timepieces and jewelery? Where is the digital world headed next? We spoke with a panel of industry experts to gauge their predictions for the coming twelve months.

Tweak Your Biz || 3 Mistakes Small Businesses Make When Marketing by Rob Boiron

Marketing in business, especially for a small business, can arguably be considered the most important key to success. You could offer the best product or service, or even have the most experienced executives that could turn your small business into a multi-million dollar company, but if you don’t employ some sort of marketing strategy, your business will be nothing more than a good idea. If you are an entrepreneur, or a simple small business owner, the following suggestions will help you develop a successful marketing campaign, or at least avoid an ineffective one..

Inc. || How to Write an Insanely Popular Blog by Aaron Anders

The most popularly shared articles online, regardless of industry, topic, or even author, often share a similar cadence, intonation, and anatomy–and that’s no accident. Slingshot SEO’s Enterprise Blog Post Optimization Guide reveals the trends and techniques found in highly shared articles and acts as a roadmap for blogging success.

Once you’ve mastered these techniques you’ll be rewarded with increased traffic, conversions and a buzzing online community.

Social Media Examiner || How to Generate Leads with Slideshare by Barry Feldman

SlideShare is a good traffic source for many businesses. SlideShare traffic is driven largely by search and social networks. Visitors are mostly conducting research at work, so if you’re using the website and its services as a strategic marketing tool, you can make it a substantial weapon in your lead generation arsenal.

Fast Company / Co. Design || Poptip Rethinks Real-Time Twitter Polling by Kevin Purdy

Poptip is a service that turns any Twitter account into a power polling machine. Any user can sign up, but for a mere mortal to post a question via Poptip would be like driving a Lamborghini in a 20-mile-per hour street; you’d never see what the engine was capable of. Instead, its dashboard is designed for larger clients, companies like Pepsi and ESPN, who may see hundreds of tweets come in per minute. At the same time, all polling data is publicly viewable to involve the audience.

In other words, Poptip sits in a challenging niche. They provide real-time poll results, so their value is speed and they need to update the page constantly. Simultaneously, how fast is too fast? When does information become too much information? And how will random people on Twitter understand what’s going on? “We wanted to make it more personal,” founder Kelsey Falter explains. “We wanted to make the info more digestible for consumers, so they wouldn’t only see that thousands of people were responding, but they wouldn’t be overwhelmed by it.”

Also check out:

Open Source Fashion || NYC Discussion Series: Leveraging Instagram to Grow Your Fashion / Retail Business

Want to learn how to turn Instragram into a WINstagram for your fashion/retail business? 1) Never say or type WINstagram. 2) Come to our first discussion event of 2013 and learn how using Instagram well can help you build business. The event features speakers from The Mobile Media Lab, Olapic and LP Fashion Photgraphy.



Original Image created by Jon S.

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Recap: Social Retail Summit #4

Recap: Social Retail Summit #4

Social Retail SummitThe fourth Social Retail Summit, a bi-annual event, was held in The Dumbo Spot last Thursday (January 17, 2013). The Summit drew a host of fashion industry participants from graduate students who run fashion blogs to industry professionals looking to expand their knowledge and contacts to new fashion entrepreneurs trying to pick up some tips. The summit touched on what it means to be a “Social Brand” in today’s fashion and technology landscape. With the initial wave of the social media explosion now behind us and with so much information out there, how are companies  able to analyze information and use social media to grow their brands and drive sales? These are some of the challenges that the panelists discussed.

The afternoon event was structured into five 30 minute panels on topics ranging from how to engage consumers in the social media age to co-creation of custom ordered high end products and 3D printing. Each panel consisted of the panelists discussing their area of expertise led by the event coordinator, followed by a few minutes of Q & A. The structure of the event was enjoyable and lent itself well to the summit–– five hours breezed by while maintaining audience engagement.

While some of the panels seemed a bit disconnected and the panelists didn’t have a rapport, others were excellent and featured great combinations of individuals who had fantastic insight. The first panel focused on the topic of how to engage consumers with social media and email marketing. An interesting insight here was that the initial wave of social media explosion is now behind us and that brands are trying to sift through the mess to see what works for them. They also discussed how current tracking mechanisms might be inadequate to accurately track what avenue is driving sales as often it can be a mixture of social media and email marketing that gets a customer to purchase on a company’s website. In that instance, who do you attribute the sale to? This was certainly an interesting point worth significant consideration.

Another one of the early panels about merging fashion media and retail had an eclectic group of panelists that included Of A Kind co-founder Claire Mazur and Lucky Magazine digital editor John Jannuzzi. This discussion was particularly interesting as it touched upon the shift in fashion consumption to a more content-based experience, something that piqued the interest of many audience members.

Some of the great moments of the summit (and something I particularly enjoyed) were the case studies delivered by Jenn Rubio of Warby Parker and Abe Burmeister of Outlier. These two brands have really emerged over the past year or two as innovative and disruptive to the existing consumption model, especially Warby Parker. Getting a chance to hear these two discuss their company mentality and the history of their respective companies was truly enthralling. Jen told stories of the early days of Warby, when customers asked to come see product out of their co-founder’s apartment to how they established one of their go to customer service models–– home-made YouTube videos as a response to Twitter based questions. Abe was also fantastic. His story on how he literally stumbled upon how to make a pair of pants and his informal style showed why he has been successful creating a new clothing brand.

Despite all of this interesting information and conversation, the last panel reminded attendees that technology could eventually disrupt the entire fashion landscape–– and change the discourse in this industry. The panelists for this session seemed like a hybrid of scientists and fashion designers, those straddling both the fashion and technology disciplines. The discussion of co-creation and customization of products was nothing short of fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the insights of Rachel Brooks, founder of Citizen Made, Seph Skerritt – founder of Proper Cloth, and Carine Carmy – director of marketing for Shapeways (speaking of Shapeways, if you haven’t heard of 3D printing check them out!).  It’s still up in the air what kind of impact this type of technology will have and whether it will displace traditional product design or just open up the market to new types of consumption. But one thing is clear: technology will have an incredible impact on the fashion industry over the next ten years, and I’m excited to see where it takes us!

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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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