By Aubrie Pagano, Zoora Founder
After taking the bus on an “entrepreneur’s budget,” I made it to the Big Apple for the first fashion technology conference. The list of fashion insiders in attendance was long and the amount of leopard prints, chiffon shirts, and fur vests in the room was impressive. Some of the most interesting folks that spoke as panelists included: Katia Beauchamp of BirchBox, Shauna Mei of Aha!Life, Lara Crystal of Rent the Runway, Jyothi Rao of Gilt Groupe, Vivian Weng of FashionStake, Brooke Moreland of Fashism, Richard Mumby of Bonobos, Nizzi Karai Renaud of Refinery 29, Caroline Waxler Lucky Mag, Erica Cerulo from Of a Kind, Sarah Conley of Ideeli, and a slew of up and comings.
I happily handed out my business cards and introduced New York to the idea of personalized clothing for women. I tried my best to tweet at #AF11 while taking feverish notes from these fashion 2.0 veterans. I also learned a thing or two about this increasingly crowded space:
- Go where your customers are and engage them in direct communication with your brand. Marketing a social brand is a two-way street and hard to pull off. Burberry and DKNY get it done.
- Gamification of the shopping experience can be a powerful tool. Flash sales and other business models can be used to engage customers.
- There is a lot of disruption to the typical retail model; and this trend will continue.
- Co-creation is one of those disruptive business models, and others are out there trying to make mass customization work. Liz Bacelar asked “who is going to make custom clothes for women?” to the audience, and I figured that maintaining relative stealth was better than broadcasting that Zoora has a solution.
- Everyone can have a hipster-ish moment. My favorite quote of the day: “It’s about the authenticity of it all.” Heavy words for 9AM on a Saturday. The context and story behind the clothes, designers and styling creates unique value for customers. Fair enough, wise panelist.
- Partnerships are super important.
- …So is getting “fit” right (but we knew that one!).
- Katia Beauchamp looks a little like Carrie Bradshaw. So petite and stylish.
After feasting on Cuban food at Cienfuegos and singing to wedding music at a non-descript Irish bar (yes – we sang Shout!), I packed up my things and headed back to Beantown. It felt nice to be part of something bigger, and to hear many of Zoora’s strategies validated by the experts in the fashion capital of the Americas.