Fashion apps may be fun to use, but there can be even more value in the data they're gathering on consumers' shopping habits, which can turn into big business when sold to brands eager for intel on their customers. That's what fashion-tech startup Stylitics realized when it launched three years ago, and that awareness seems to have paid off: The company announced Tuesday that it had received a majority stake investment from leading global market research company NPD Group.
For those who aren't familiar, Stylitics operates as a platform for everyday users to catalogue their clothing and outfits (à la that scene in Clueless) and in turn feeds data to brands about what its users are wearing and which labels they're styling together.
With the NPD investment in place, Stylitics rolled out a few new features for brands this week, with new consumer updates to come next, says CMO and co-founder Zach Davis.
On the business side of things, the startup is offering brands two new tools in addition to the consumer reports it already creates: An analytics tool for marketing emails and an interactive dashboard that shows brands what's selling and trending, which quietly launched this week.
With this data, brands are not only able to figure out who their competitors are, but also who might be best to align themselves with, depending on which brands consumers are styling in the same outfit. With those insights, a label might be able to position themselves alongside another brand in a publication, or be placed near one another in a store.
Here's what's new for users:
In two weeks or so, Stylitics will release a "style stats" page for consumers, which provides data back to you on your own style and provides recommendations on what to wear based on the weather. Depending on how type A you are about your closet, that's either helpful or superfluous.
We're more excited about another upcoming feature, which lets users ping a stylist in real time to get a second opinion on an outfit or to get help putting one together. Since Stylitics in many ways has more to offer brands than it does users, adding a feature like that helps boost its utility to us everyday folk -- and incentivizes people to use it more.
That program is still being built out, Davis says, so don't expect to see that on the app immediately.
As far as long-term strategy, we couldn't help but wonder whether e-commerce was on the horizon for Stylitics. They've been slow to adopt it because, says Davis, "there are so many companies that are trying to sell people stuff." What they might do, though, is integrate with other fashion-tech startups -- resale platforms like Poshmark, for instance -- although Davis says there's no news on the partnership front just yet.
The fashion-tech space has been relatively quiet lately in terms of nabbing big investments. While it's difficult to build a truly sticky consumer-facing app, retailers and brands will always be hungry for data, so brands who can deliver that can become indispensable.