Perusing through social media platforms like Instagram, Jessie Zeng came to a realization: Followers wanted to know where they could buy the clothing worn by their favorite celebrities or influencers, but their requests often went unanswered. As a result, she saw an opportunity for a business, Choosy, that would manufacture clothes made famous by celebrities, and deliver them to customers just weeks after they “favorite” and purchase the items.
The Choosy founder and CEO ran a test at the beginning of the year to see if the concept would work, selling four styles inspired by Bella and Gigi Hadid. The experiment was a success and served as an “aha” moment for the soon-to-launch company.
“The entire collection sold out within two hours, and we actually had a wait list of over 10,000 people,” Zeng told PYMNTS in an interview.
Beyond answering the demands of social media users who crave celebrity and influencer fashions, Choosy seeks to solve another problem: making expensive designer fashions available to the masses without the big price tags.
Fashion Through Social Tagging
Choosy identifies the top 10 trending weekly fashions through a combination of social tagging with the #GetChoosy hashtag and a team of human “style scouts.” When it identifies an item that would be a good fit for its customers, the company makes it available to users on an eCommerce site. It will then manufacture the fashions on demand and deliver them to shoppers’ doorsteps in as little as two weeks for “pretty much real-time social shopping,” according to Zeng.
In addition, Choosy has an agile supply chain that allows it to produce garments within 48 hours of them trending online. This is important, as some players in the market can get their trend forecast wrong 30 to 80 percent of the time. By owning its entire supply chain, Zeng said the platform also has another major advantage: It can maintain quality control over its manufacturing process, from design and fabric sourcing up to production and shipping,
But Choosy takes its model one step further, and plans to use artificial intelligence (AI) for a recommendation engine. Much like Spotify, the algorithms work to match customers with fashions through profiles.
“[It matches] new things that you may be interested in based on profiles of others who share other commonalities with you,” Zeng explained.
Instagram Drives Fashion Purchases
With more 400 million daily users across the globe, Instagram is becoming a strong driver of fashion purchases, according to a 2017 report from Dana Rebecca Designs. After polling 2,000 Instagram users, the company discovered that 72 percent of them had made a fashion, beauty or style-related purchase after seeing something posted on Instagram, and 29 percent had bought jewelry or jewelry accessories after looking at the app.
The items most frequently purchased following Instagram visits were clothing, makeup, shoes and jewelry, the study noted. Although most of the respondents who make such fashion purchases are female, the research noted that males are five times more likely to be influenced by shoe posts. When asked which social media app had the largest influence on their shopping routines, 50 percent of respondents pointed to Instagram, 23 percent said Facebook, 22 percent cited Pinterest, 3 percent said Twitter and the remaining 1 percent cited Snapchat.
The Runway Ahead
Choosy raised $5.4 million in a seed round led by New Enterprise Associates, which was announced on Tuesday (May 15). The round also involved participation from Forerunner Ventures, Innovation Global Capital, Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, XFactor Ventures, Supernode Ventures and angel investor Bryan Rosenblatt.
Zeng said the company plans to invest the funds in the customer experience and in building out the company’s team ahead of its launch. While it’s too early to elaborate on long-term plans, Choosy hasn’t written off bringing in other product categories in the future.
“We are definitely exploring a lot of options,” Zeng said. “For now, we’re definitely focused on women’s apparel just because even women’s mass apparel alone is a trillion-dollar global industry. But, in the future, I could see Choosy expanding to anything that would trend on social media.”