Since the big fashion tech startup boom of this century's early teens, we've seen a lot of apps come and go, or come and evolve into something completely different, as is now the case with Villoid — the fashion app best known as Alexa Chung's first foray into the tech world.
As a quick recap, Chung was brought on by the company's Norwegian founder Jeanette Dyhre Kvisvik in late 2014 to help rebrand and become the face of the social shopping app. It essentially allowed users to make Pinterest-like "boards" with outfits they like, as well as follow other users in addition to individual brands; each item on the board could be clicked on and potentially purchased. It was a fun idea, but perhaps not the most original, as other apps like Polyvore, Spring and The Net Set bore similar features. However, they did not have the support of one of fashion's foremost style icons.
Though we haven't seen Chung promoting it quite as much as, say, her namesake clothing line recently, Villoid has quietly been trucking along ever since. Last summer, it announced a new platform to highlight emerging designers, and we're told it has users in 180 countries and raised nearly $2 million from a recent round of funding, primarily from existing investors, according to co-founder and CEO Karin Kaellman. Now, as the retail landscape is changing rapidly, it appears Villoid is changing along with it with a bigger focus on the marketing game-changers we call influencers.
As of Friday, Villoid has relaunched its millennial pink website as a platform for influencers to host their own online shops. "In the two years since our launch, we have developed a strong international brand, a solid tech platform, a stream of magnificent brands applying to become part of our ecosystem — and most importantly a warm community of women of all ages, persuasions and locations," said Kaellman in a statement. "It was only natural that we strap on our working gloves and build this new angle to our platform — to give our fans what they've been calling for — an accessible, personalized and hyper curated shopping experience with a nifty buy button."
The site will announce a new shop owner every day this month, starting with — who else? — Chung herself. Currently, you can find photos of Chung accompanied by shoppable, similar-looking items to what she's wearing. Poppy Delevingne and Gia Coppola are among the other style stars Chung has tapped to become retailers. "I'm so excited to be launching this next phase of Villoid alongside some incredible women with enviable taste — some are friends, some I just stalk and others are people I'm sure you'll come to know and love," said Chung in a statement.
Of course, they'll act more as curators than shop owners, pulling from Villoid's existing network of over 4,000 brand partners. (Villoid holds no inventory.) The influencers earn a commission on everything they sell and Villoid earns a fee for supplying the tech and the platform. It's less of a social network and more of a marketplace than the original app, which still exists, while "Villoid 2.0" can only be shopped via web browser.
The company has clearly taken note of the powerful influencer economy and aims to be a part of it, noting in the press release that, "The digital influencer industry is worth $2.5 billion a year and, according to Forbes, 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advert."
It's also an interesting and potentially savvy move for Chung, who has likely sold a vast array of clothes and accessories over the years simply by wearing them, and never really engaged in the traditional influencer model of posting #spon outfit photos on Instagram. Between this and her clothing line, she's finally profiting from her influential style.
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