8 FashionTech startup companies presented at New York Fashion Tech Lab‘s “Demo Day” at the Time Inc. recently. NYFTL was cofounded in 2014 by Springboard Enterprises and the Partnership Fund for New York City. This cohort of the accelerator’s third program worked for an intense 12 weeks, receiving mentoring and feedback from fashion companies like Macy’s and Kate Spade, meetings with experienced executives and investors and exclusive discussions and panels on the different facets of fashion technology.
According to Kay Koplovitz, the chairwoman of Springboard Enterprises, the lab was created to help fill a hole in the retail tech market. “We saw the lack of some of the incoming technology that consumers carry around in their pocket,” Koplovitz said.
Koplovitz said that this year’s class is the most diverse one yet. The business owners come from countries like South Africa, Estonia and Russia and have experience in the marketing medical, and engineering fields. The founders’ cultural backgrounds and previous career paths have helped them create technological products that are bound to impact the industry.
This year’s innovators include a designer fashion rental service, an online shopping fit guide, and wearable protective technology for women, among others.
Image credit: Fashion Business
Claire is a data-analytics company that uses A/B testing to determine what products are selling best in online retail markets.
Founder Marta Jamrozik quit her strategic pricing job and cofounder Misha Laskin dropped out of business school to form this startup after they discovered that $800 billion is lost in the retail market due to poor decision-making.
The way Claire works is by giving customers game-like surveys after they purchase a product. They are then rewarded with compensation like gift cards and discounts for their feedback.
Jamrozik and Laskin have partnered with Kohl’s and Alex and Ani, and just announced a new partnership with Rebecca Minkoff.
“Here at Claire, we believe fashion is an art, but understanding your consumers is a science,” Jamrozik said. “We are a science.”
Founders Claire Allison and Seema Gohil created Closet Collective to treat a common problem among women: they have full closets, but 51 percent of the clothes are unworn. Allison and Gohil call their clothing-rental business a combination of Rent the Runway and Airbnb.
Closet Collective allows women to lend their clothing to the company and rent items for themselves. The clothing includes everyday designer pieces that range from $200 to $500. Any style size, or designer is accepted.
One of the business’ unique aspects is the fixed rental cost: customers can either rent three items for $99 or five items for $150.
This company also helps the consumer profit. Allison said that one customer bought 300 new pieces with the money she earned from loaning her clothes and made $130,000.
Allison and Gohil plan to contribute to the resale industry revenue, which is estimated to hit $16 billion this year.
Not only is Closet Collective economically smart, but it will also help introduce consumers to new designers, which will expand their sartorial knowledge and improve their personal style.
“They are engaging with designers they either didn’t know before or could never afford,” Allison said.
According to Gohil, “It’s affordable, but high-end.”
Jing Zhou cannot wear a Fitbit or an Apple Watch because she is allergic to nickel—an element found in both gadgets. To solve this problem, she created her own polymer, and her own product.
At first glance, Elemoon closely resembles a lacquered enamel bracelet. The “standalone, flexible computer” features hi-definition displays and solar-powered coating. It can track motion and speed and can be used for athletic and medical purposes.
Zhou and her team of professionals—former employees at companies like Microsoft, Apple, Samsung and Pixar—spent two years and used 17 factories to perfect the product.
The first version sold out at trendy retailers Free People and Fred Segal, and raked in $400,000 in revenue, and Zhou is now finishing a new version, to be called Elemoon 1.0.
The coolest part of this device? Its ability to color-coordinate to your outfit.
According to Zhou, “People only want to wear something if it’s pretty.”
No one is the same size on every internet retailer. Most of us also don’t know our body measurements, or even if we do, we don’t know how to properly measure ourselves.
According to Catherine Iger and Greg Villines, this is why 30-40 percent of clothing purchased online is returned.
Iger and Villines created Fittery, a data tool that provides consumers with accurate, customized sizing information for items they want to purchase. All the consumer has to do is take a 42-second survey and give their height, weight and other simple answers. Fittery then customizes results according to clothing category.
Fittery has been named a “2016 Top Innovator” by Apparel Magazine and has already reduced customer return rates from 30-40 percent to .6 percent at its partner companies.
“We are only going to show people the clothing that actually fits them,” Igger said. Mission accomplished.
Imagine you are graduating college. You need a white dress, but not just any white dress. You need a white lace dress. A white lace, bohemian dress.
If only there was an algorithm to find the exact clothing you want with your taste and price point.
This is where Genostyle comes in. Veronica Cabezas and Ricardo Curevo created Genostyle to analyze existing customer data and provide personalized search results, saving you time and tediousness.
“We love data and we love fashion, so we do both,” Cabezas explained.
Genostyle, currently partnered with a clothing website based in India, gathers data by listing categories of clothing style and silhouette, and tracking which categories sell best in each category. For example, bohemian skirts might be selling best in the skirt category, but grungy jeans might be selling best in the jeans category.
Prospective customers can go to Getmy.style to get started with style recommendations.
According to Kat Alexander, more than 1/3 of all women have been abused violently. Alexander, who has had several traumatizing experiences herself, created a safety device to address this issue.
Siren is a large, jeweled ring that Alexander calls “more than a wearable.” It features a piercing alarm that causes physical distress when aimed at a target. The alarm goes off within a matter of seconds of pressing the trigger.
Offered in both silver and goldish copper, the ring is presently somewhat chunky, but Alexander plans to downsize future versions. Still, it is the only alarm system the size of a bottle cap, and most importantly it allows women to act alone without third party assistance.
Between Vine, Instagram and Snapchat, videos are becoming increasingly integrated into our cyber lives, and are expected to take up 61 percent of online traffic by 2019. However, according to Karoline Gross, the founder of SMARTZER, “there’s very little available about how people actually interact with the content.”
SMARTZER is an interactive video play added on top of videos created by fashion retailers that communicates product information to the viewer. All they have to do is pause the video and click on the item they are interested in.
Gross, who has a background in science, started the company three and a half years ago. She says a crucial aspect of the interactive videos is the data analytics they provide, such as sales information.
“I think we’re in a really exciting part of video and it’s becoming a very important part of e-commerce,” she said.
There are only 80 3-D knitwear engineers in the US. Veronika Harbick and Michael Carlson are two of them.
Harbick and Carlson founded Thursday Finest, a vertically-integrated knitwear company that creates completely custom designs for men and women. Customers can mix and match more than 30 different colors to design a scarf or a tie to be made out of merino wool, silk, cotton or cashmere. Harbick and Carlson import the fibers from Tollegno, a sustainable woolen mill in Italy that also supplies to J. Crew, Armani, and Brooks Brothers.
They then engineer the programs and patterns and their solar-powered machine creates the product. They feel that their company is distinguished by the fact their knitwear goes beyond the traditional customized products like monogrammed polo shirts and quilted bags.
According to Harbick, “What we’re actually doing is creating something much more meaningful and deeper.”