The fashion scene has become increasingly busy year-round, as more and more brands enter the market and interest in the industry rises. This has made keeping up with fashion events that much harder. Chicmi, a little-known website and app with lots of potential, is hoping to change that.
The London-based company sources and organizes all types of fashion goings-on onto one streamlined platform that users can navigate by city and category, and sync with their calendars. Currently, there are categories for sample sales, vintage, bridal, shopping, exhibitions, industry and online — which is to say, pretty much everything.
Although Chicmi is only available in four cities right now — London, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco — the team plans to expand once they feel they’ve perfected these first few.
Chicmi’s no-frills homepage
The project, launched by the British tech entrepreneur Jamie Brown and cultural investment consultant Aowen Jin, first began in 2014 as a British-Chinese collaboration providing Chinese tourists with a guide to London’s fashion scene. Working with government partners like the Mayor of London’s office and China’s Ministry of Commerce, who made lucrative introductions and provided free resources, they developed a bilingual app that quickly caught on with local shoppers, too.
Realizing this in early 2015, the duo’s mission evolved to something much larger: “to be the absolute best way for fashion lovers to discover fashion events in their city and to make it super easy for event organizers of all sizes to reach the right audience.”
Indeed, it’s not just a boon to consumers. Brands are granted special access to the platform where they can manage their events, keep their brand page up-to-date and see statistics about their sales, like which of their events has gained the most traction or how well their brand ranks as a whole, compared to other brands.
The team recently launched free collaboration tools, as well, to help facilitate multi-brand events. Brown jokes that it’s like brand dating, and Chicmi plays matchmaker. Brands who are interested can sign up to collaborate — listing the types of events they’d like to take part in, the locations they prefer and the products they offer — and the company will pair them with other well-suited brands that are looking for event partners.
“We’ve realized that our relationship with brands is a key part of the puzzle,” said co-founder Jamie Brown. “There are so many independent and emerging brands out there who are struggling with high rents and an online marketplace dominated by big players. Pop-ups and sample sales are an amazing way for them to reach new people, but they don’t currently have a way to market these events [outside of their core audience].”
At the start of this year, Chicmi began making some of its broader statistical insights public, as well, and the results are impressive. The monthly dossiers present users with event trends and data gleaned from each city. Users can look into things like the gender interest ratio for fashion events, the most common day of the week people check for sales, the most popular types of events and the hottest event regions in each area.
Although they launched with the app, the website has turned out to be the more popular platform, even though 50 percent of users are visiting it from their iPhones. The team reports that around 85 percent of their traffic is on the web, which they attribute to people wanting to keep up with Chicmi via apps they’re already loyal to, such as G-Mail (where users can opt to receive daily or weekly alerts tailored to their interests) or social accounts like Instagram and Twitter (where Chicmi has dedicated accounts for each city).
The app, on the other hand, is “perfect for when you want that immediate fashion fix” said Brown, since it automatically displays what’s happening in your immediate vicinity. “Many people use it when they’re on their lunch break or have a spare few hours in the afternoon,” he said. “[On the other hand], they use the web to plan in advance.”
Three different views of the Chicmi app
For the most part, however, both platforms offer the same functionalities, allowing users to search for an event based on various metrics, including date, brand name and event type. They can also whittle down their search based on admission, selecting between free entry, paid entry, booking required or invite-only.
Events listed this week for New York include a Reformation sample sale, Anna Sui in conversation with Fern Mallis and the Black Fashion Designers exhibit at FIT. If you confirm with the site that you’re attending, Chicmi will notify you of any changes or cancellations.
Brown says sourcing these events began with a mixture of search technology and hard work. Having built a name, and better relationships in the industry, most events are now submitted to Chicmi by brands, PR agencies and other event organizers. They also rely on special data parsers that monitor Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Eventbrite, Meetup and more for any fashion events. What’s more, they’ve “joined every mailing list under the sun, and [they’re] automatically [sent] relevant announcements,” via the same data parser, said Brown. “So when an event is announced, we normally know about it within minutes.”
What brands are trending in each city on Chicmi
At the moment, revenue isn’t a top priority for the brand — it has what the team describes as “good investment” behind them and are able to focus more on building the product. It does, however, generate some money from commission relationships with select brands and retailers. For example, if you click through to the brand’s website from their sample sale page and make a purchase, Chicmi receives a small percentage.
“We think there are some great opportunities for revenue as we grow,” said Brown, “starting with services like ticketing, for example, where we’ll charge a small processing fee.” The team has additional service ideas in the works that are currently under wraps, but they’re “determined never to be covered in ads” or to promote certain sales more than others just because they’re being paid. “Ultimately, I think that’s damaging for the fashion lovers who trust us to work in their interest, and also to brands who can’t afford it,” said Brown.
The Chicmi team hopes that by taking this tech-first approach to the company and making event listings their core product — as opposed to making them one component amongst many, a la Racked — they’ll come to dominate the space. In the coming months, they’ll be building on their fashion stats offering, as well as debuting more brand and organizer-facing tools, like ticketing and RSVP features that will allow allow interested parties to purchase tickets on the site.
“We think that fashion needs to be experienced, and we want to enable that,” said Brown.