It couldn’t be more ironic that despite being an industry based on setting new trends, fashion has been anything but an early adopter for technology. The rest of the world has kept a hot pace on innovation while many fashion retail chains still struggle to catch up to e-commerce and only a few have ventured into mobile territory.
That began to change last year when, as reported in a story on Product Hyperlinking, retail brands started to notice that customers could find information about brands and prices quicker than retail associates could. The future had almost seemed to force fashion’s hand in catching up to the pack.
Many stores have now launched their own mobile apps offering in-app purchases, product and sale information, but in doing so have introduced an entirely new problem: app overload. While shopping at a mall, a consumer would literally have to have hundreds of apps on their phone to access information for all of the brands that they browse. Those applications may offer a solid control of the brand experience, but they are only likely to be downloaded by repeat customers.
The need for a central fashion shopping resource was dire.
ShopStyle (now POPSUGAR) was the first to enter the competition to be that app and offers one of the most comprehensive resources for discovering new fashion items from your favorite stores. Then Swirl (shown above, right) entered the scene mobile-first with an app that also curated major brands while allowing you to collect and curate your own “collections” of items that you find.
Neither app has bar code scanning and, to date, and neither app has really emerged as the go-to mobile fashion resource.
Launched yesterday in the app store, FashionClyp has now entered the race to become that app. Much like ShopStyle and Swirl, FashionClyp for iPhone allows you to follow your favorite brands and discover the newest featured items in your own personalized fashion feed. It also finds and pulls all of the sales for your brands into one channel and can find the item you are looking for at the nearest store on a map.
While none of the apps have particularly novel ideas or innovative features, FashionClyp has three things that the others do not:
FashionClyp’s design isn’t dry and chic like Swirl and Shopstyle nor is it futuristic like Instagram and Vine. It also isn’t part of the “Pinterestification of the Web” that every fashion startup like Pose and Stylecaster seem to have bought into. Instead of following the trends, FashionClyp sports its own unique and quirky design that breaks away from the pack. The crooked and “taped” images in the feed give it a very fun vibe while still maintaining legibility and displaying the images well.
Showing a great attention to detail, the UI also includes instructions that explain what the app is doing and how to operate it.
FashionClyp is truly the first of its kind to merge together fashion item discovery (e-commerce) with user submitted photos. It seems like it might be something of an afterthought as there aren’t any filters, tags or functions that highlight the shared images yet, but the feature combines the shopping discovery process with the sharing of the style that it becomes. It’s going to take a lot of iteration and user analysis to see what this ends up becoming compared to the plethora of photo sharing apps that already exist (including Pose, Trendabl, StyleTag, Snapette, StyledOn, and TagBrand).
FashionClyp also comes with a “big data & self learning science engine” that tracks your preferences and learns yours style. The engine is able to suggest new items from different brands that you do and don’t follow to create a more serendipitous shopping experience. Although it doesn’t yet have the most detailed information to go off of, the suggestions browser is a nice way to discover new things without having to venture completely outside of your taste.
In all, FashionClyp is a solid app that shows polishing both in design and code. It doesn’t have any bugs or crashes (all issues were worked out from the pre-launch version that I tested) and the only feature that I’m left dying for is bar code scanning, but it seems that time has not yet come (at least in America).
I worry that FashionClyp’s lack of “wow” features may be a problem in competing against Swirl and Shopstyle. The small startup, founded last year by a team of fashion stylists in San Francisco with some angel funding, needs to have viral growth to raise more funding or strong user engagement to drive profit.
But whether it does or doesn’t, I know that I will be using the app to see whats new with my favorite fashion retailers.