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New Technology Could Change the Way Market Editors Work

Editors are hopeful that Fashion GPS's Styles 2.0 platform, which launches today at power-agency KCD's Open House, will help alleviate some of the busy work that has been a major part of the job for so long.

The role of the market editor varies from publication to publication. But in general, market editors spend much of their time calling in product for shoots and visiting showrooms to get a clear understanding of what's available to call in. If a stylist asks for a pair of leopard-print socks for a story, it's the market editor's responsibility to find styles of leopard-print socks. The other, more fun part of being a market editor, is coming up with story ideas. They're tasked with unearthing up-and-coming designers, finding micro trends no one else is talking about, and keeping those on staff who aren't out "in the field" generally informed of what's going on in, well, the market.

The problem, of course, is that most market editors spend too much of their time on the administrative stuff. That's why the editors we've spoken to are hopeful that Fashion GPS's Styles 2.0 platform, which launches today at power-agency KCD's Open House, will help alleviate some of the crap work.

The new feature can be best described as a digital showroom. An editor can log into her GPS Radar account—the site where digital fashion week invites are stored—and access still shots of products that are currently available to shoot. From there, editors can put in a digital request to "call in" items. That request is forwarded to the brand's designated publicist, and the usual back-and-forth between editors and PRs will resume.

Because of Fashion GPS's longstanding relationship with KCD, the startup chose to launch this feature exclusively with the agency, which also has offices in London and Paris. But the hope is that editors will love it so much that other PR firms will want to sign on as well, and that Fashion GPS will become a one-stop shop for pulling product. "We want to make editors' lives simpler," says Rachna Shah, managing director of KCD Digital. "It's meant to enhance the way people work already. To make communication smoother."

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Over the next few weeks, Market Week—which, much like Fashion Week, is actually way longer than seven days—will require editors to bop from appointment to appointment, taking hundreds upon hundreds of photos of product that they may or may not shoot simply for reference. "Sometimes I try to fit four items into one picture just to save room on my memory card," says Noelle Sciacca, associate market editor at Lucky. Sydney Wasserman, DuJour's senior market editor, says she's been itching for a digital solution since 2008. "Hours spent organizing market photos, dragging every look off of, sending hundreds of emails to request looks and accessories can easily be streamlined with a digital program in my opinion," Wasserman says. "There is a lot of time wasted in simple organization for a market editor, and having access to a showrooms product without having to dig through all of your appointment photos would be a huge help."

Unsurprisingly, Fashion GPS is not the first company to try to create such a platform. The Runthrough, which announced a $1.2 million seed funding round in August 2013, has a bit of a leg up on Fashion GPS in that its product has been in use since 2011, and that the site was launched by former editors Meggan Crum and Mandy Tang, who met at W magazine and served many years in the trenches. But what Fashion GPS has that it's competitors do not is extensive familiarity. All editors—market, fashion, news, features—have used Fashion GPS pretty regularly for the past five years or so. Which means they'll be more inclined to start using it more extensively.

The key to Fashion GPS' success with this product will be "ease of use," Shah says. And breadth of use, too. "The more information they can provide—from the store delivery date to the available colorways—the better it is for me," Sciacca says. Adds Wasserman, "No matter what, there is no avoiding the chaos that is requesting products for shoots and the 10-20 emails that follow the initial request e-mail. I think the stream of communication between market editors and PR will always be hectic and ongoing, but the initial request process can certainly be improved by this system."