With so many fashion tech startups popping up constantly, it can be hard to figure out which ones are actually cool and useful, especially when many of them are very similar. Last year, we were inundated with recession-friendly member’s only flash sale sites. This year, it’s all about adapting the methods of Pinterest and Instagram for fashion. Ecommerce is still big, but entrepreneurs are finding ways to make the shopping experience social rather than exclusive. One way a few smart companies are trying to get people to engage is by getting celebrities and fashion influencers like editors, bloggers and it girls on board in the beginning and letting the social, viral nature of their sites and mobile apps do the rest.
Click through for the 10 sites and apps that we think do the best job of this, including the new one the Olsens are using.
Trendabl The latest startup to embrace the power of celebrity influence is an iPhone app called Trendabl. Billed as "Instagram for fashion," users can share photos of outfits and tag them according to label, price, where it's from, etc. You can also comment on and like things. They launched this week with an impressive roster of celebrity trendsetters including Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Harley Viera Newton, Whitney Port and Brad Goreski and plan to eventually expand into ecommerce.
Material Wrld This fashion ecommerce startup also launched just this week and intentionally left a vowel out of their name. Founded by a former digital media marketer for Coach and the former international director of ecommerce for J. Crew, Material Wrld currently gives shoppers a chance to shop the closets of NYC fashion people like Leandra Medine, Steven Alan and the Dannijo girls through an online pop-up shop. According to Betabeat, the site will soon feature more pop-ups shops with hand-selected sellers and curated items.
Pose Pose is similar to Trendabl (but launched over a year ago) in that it is also an app where you take photos of clothing and share it with your friends and get feedback. Pose has a handpicked group of stylish influencers on board called "Posers," including Leandra Medine, Rachel Zoe, Coco Rocha and various influencers and bloggers.
Opensky One of our startups to watch in 2012, Opensky is a curated ecommerce site where you can shop items endorsed by famous people like Kelly Bensimon, Cynthia Rowley and Julianne Moore at a reduced price and you customize who you follow. They also recently launched a cool collaboration with the CFDA.
The Cools Living up to their name, The Cools (another one of our startups to watch) is a curated social shopping platform where you can follow cool tastemakers like the Clarins sisters and Erin Fetherston and shop recommendations in an intuitive way that actually makes you want to buy things.
Mulu.me Mulu is one of the sites that is similar to Pinterest in that you share pictures of things you love, except people actually buy them and a portion of the proceeds go to charity. Tons of celebs and fashion people are "gurus" you can follow on the site, including Ivanka Trump, Steven Kolb, Zooey Deschanel, and Dita Von Teese.
Lyst Lyst is Pinterest-esque, but it's tailored to fashion and does way more to help you find things you want or are looking for. You can also follow stylists and bloggers like the Man Repeller (of course) and Who What Wear.
Hipswap With Hipswap, which is similar to Material Wrld, you can buy and sell pre-owned stuff and have it delivered. It's organized by city, a la Craigslist. You can also shop the closets of celebrities and reality tv stars like Real Housewives cast member Kyle Richards.
Beachmint Beachmint basically spearheaded the celebrity-approved ecommerce model with celebrities fronting each of their membership-based brands: the Olsens for StyleMint, Jessica Simpson for BeautyMint, Kate Bosworth for JewelMint and Rachel Bilson for ShoeMint.
AHA Life One of the early adopters of online social curation, AHA Life offers a space for users to find great products curated by people like Diane Von Furstenberg and Tim Gunn.