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Fashion is opening up. Old gatekeepers are moving on, being replaced by a new breed of fashion editor who is also a consumer (and, often, influencer in their own right). Keeping this change in her sights, Alexis Maybank launched in April Project September, a new app that links brands with shoppers.
The twist: They shop via photos uploaded by users, who get a cut of the revenue each time a purchase is made.
Maybank, who was also the co-founder of Gilt Group, joined the Glossy Podcast to discuss the death of flash sale sites, how fashion is being democratized, and her wish list for moving fashion-tech forward.
Edited highlights below.
Gilt was a harbinger of the way fashion would change.
From the outset, Gilt mimicked the sample sale experience online by only letting people buy things for a select period of time. Maybank argues that that the behavior Gilt encouraged is something that will just become more “pervasive” across brands. “People learned that [urgency] was an exciting way for customers to engage,” she said. “Brands should now add that day-to-day. The one mistake businesses make is their site looks the same, the offerings stay virtually the same, every day.”
There are lessons to be learned from the death of flash sale sites.
Gilt Group, which was bought by Saks Fifth Avenue earlier this year, was the posterchild for how e-commerce should be done, which is why big retailers need to learn from how Gilt scaled, said Maybank. Analysts argued that Gilt grew too fast; Maybank conceded it was a factor. “We’d have big shocks to the system where we’d double user bases overnight, and we’d have to go out and change every purchase order we wrote,” she said. “Everyone needs to remember that the business you roll out the door for 15,000 people is never the business that serves 5 million people. You need to rethink all the time.”
Project September took cues from the increased editorialization in e-commerce.
There has to be care taken to maintain a sense of intrigue in products, said Maybank. “Give people a reason to get on the site,” she said. “This whole approach where you’re romancing the customer through content” needs to become a common one, she said.
The control has firmly shifted into the hands of the people.
The fact of Project September’s existence is proof. Maybank said that the movement from glossy magazines to inspiration coming from Instagram has changed the power structure. “People are sharing their looks, and capturing street style, and so much information in the fashion space is being passed around,” she said. Which is why project September gives individuals who are creating the photos the control to link to the brand or retailer they want, using the photos they want.
Payments remain the bugbear.
While mobile conversion rates are up, Maybank said there’s a way to go. The big gap is in payment. There are too many players and no standardization. “People are trying to tackle it, but it’s still hard,” she said. “If we could all work from one platform” we’d all work better, she said.