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Shoes of Prey on beating the odds in the customization market

Shoes of Prey
Shoes of Prey

For the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators, Liz Bacelar chatted to Jodie Fox, co-founder and creative director of online custom-made shoe platform Shoes of Prey, about the company’s eight-year evolution and how they plan on changing the way women buy and wear shoes.

For Fox, the brand’s success in offering customized shoes at on-demand speed, lies in owning the whole manufacturing process, which is where a lot of other similar companies fell short during the customization boom in 2010, she says.

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In its early stages, selling the idea of building a factory that would do one shoe at a time was met with a lot of negativity. The company now employs 200 people, however, most of which are based out of their own factory in China, and can have a pair of shoes in the customer’s hands in under two weeks.

Shoes of PreyThe importance of creating a company anchored in technology means that as fashion evolves and becomes more embedded with tech, Shoes of Prey is at the perfect standing, Fox explains.

“One of the things we as a brand are really lucky not to have is legacy (…) Traditionally fashion is a very creative environment and I do believe that there is that desire to be innovative, but the way we get those ideas into market is still very broken. And that’s one of the key places that technology can power to simply be fashion,“ she says, stating that fashion and technology shouldn’t be mutually exclusively as they can both leverage one another.

Liz Bacelar and Jodie Fox
Liz Bacelar and Jodie Fox

As a consumer, Shoes of Prey offers over 10 trillion combinations of a shoe’s design, which include changing heels, silhouette and colour. Although the company began by offering a blank canvas, it soon realized the importance of striking the balance of giving consumers choice, but not overwhelming them. For this process, the input of a team of designers has been crucial in creating a controlled yet flexible shopping experience.

The platform also enables shoppers who once considered customization cost or time-prohibitive to see it as a tangible choice, particularly for those who fall outside the standard shoe sizing sold across the West, a group which Fox states 77% of women are part of. For the founder, it is surprising that shoe sizing has remained untouched for so long, which means consumers have become accustomed to the fact that wearing certain shoes – such as heels – won’t always be comfortable.

Fox, who alongside her two other co-founders has raised $30.6 million for Shoes of Prey since launching in 2009, says success has come from leveraging a simple rule of innovation: by being an industry outsider (in her case, with a background in law) she was able to find a common problem, and create an unbiased solution for it.

“One of the reasons why Shoes of Prey managed to make a difference is probably naivety, and not being indoctrinated in the expertise of manufacturing in the industry,” she says. “You can’t let expertise get in the way of an idea.”

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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business data digital snippets e-commerce Startups sustainability technology

What you missed: LVMH e-commerce, Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the role of personalisation

LVMH is launching a new e-commerce site under CDO Ian Rogers
LVMH is launching a new e-commerce site under CDO Ian Rogers

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past week.


TOP STORIES
  • LVMH and the next big digital shopping experience [NY Times]
  • In Copenhagen, gearing up for a circular fashion system [BoF]
  • Surprise surprise, the fashion industry isn’t as sustainable as it should be – report [High Snobiety]
  • The heartbeat of modern marketing: Data activation and personalisation [McKinsey]
  • From farm to finished garment: Blockchain is aiding this fashion collection with transparency [Forbes]
  • How custom footwear retailer Shoes of Prey cut its delivery time to two weeks [Glossy]

BUSINESS
  • Coach confirms acquisition of Kate Spade [The Industry]
  • American Apparel to let shoppers choose US-made clothing [Retail Dive]
  • In global retailing, does the ‘see-now, buy-now’ model really work? [Thomson Reuters]
  • Hudson’s Bay taps debt adviser amid Neiman Marcus bid challenges [Reuters]
  • How clothing brands are embracing transparency to meet the growing demand for sustainable apparel [AdWeek]

MARKETING
  • Tiffany & Co. takes direct aim at Trump in new ad calling for action on climate change [Business Insider]
  • The prioritisation of personalisation [Glossy]
  • What you don’t know about American millennials [BoF]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • It’s more than Amazon: Why retail is in distress now [CNBC]
  • Amid brick-and-mortar travails, a tipping point for Amazon in apparel [NY Times]
  • What China reveals about the future of shopping [BCG]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Jeff Bezos: Artificial intelligence permeates Amazon’s business strategy [Retail Dive]

START-UPS
  • The RealReal is opening a real store in New York [TechCrunch]
Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce film mobile social media technology

What you missed: Women’s march, what Brexit means for fashion, Branson on retail’s survival

Signs from the Women's March on Washington. (Photographed by Jonno Rattman, via Vogue)
Signs from the Women’s March on Washington. (Photographed by Jonno Rattman, via Vogue)

Top of the news agenda this past week has of course been the US inauguration of President Donald Trump, and the subsequent Women’s Marches that took place around the world. Credit to some of the intelligent coverage coming out of traditionally “fashion” (not to mention “teen”) publications, above and beyond the mere commentary around what the new First Lady and First Daughter are wearing. A particular nod to Fashionista for deciding not to comment on the latter. Lots to read, support and get behind, and the fashion industry has the potential to be a big part of that in terms of equal rights for all.

Meanwhile, other big news to know about, includes a view on what UK prime minister, Theresa May’s Brexit speech means for fashion, as well as an inspirational keynote from Richard Branson at NRF Retail’s Big Show on entrepreneurialism in retail. Also check out our recent view on whether Twitter is still relevant for fashion brands, as well as below further insight on how the industry is using Whatsapp, what to expect from Pinterest, and yet more updates on the chatbot space.


TOP STORIES
  • The most inspiring moments from the speeches at the Women’s March on Washington [Vogue]
  • Decoding Theresa May’s Brexit speech and what it means for fashion [BoF]
  • Richard Branson: Retail brands must ‘be entrepreneurial’ to survive [Retail Dive]
  • Shoes of Prey and Indochino on mass customisation and the future of retail [NRF]

BUSINESS
  • Bitter end to American Apparel as wind down accelerates [WWD]
  • Fashion house BCBG closing stores, restructuring [Retail Dive]
  • Fashion brands fear Trump’s trade policies will disrupt global production chains, with risk of tariffs squeezing profits [SCMP]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • How fashion brands are using Whatsapp [Glossy]
  • Instagram accounts for 92% of brand social interactions: report [Luxury Daily]
  • Here’s what marketers can expect from Pinterest in 2017 [AdWeek]
  • Is Twitter right for customer service? [L2]
  • Twitter is phasing out the “Buy” button, will continue to offer donations [TechCrunch]
  • Dolce & Gabbana innovates fashion show by casting social media stars as models [CPP-Luxury]

MARKETING
  • How influencer chatbots could close the gap between content and commerce [The Drum]
  • Alexa Chung’s latest campaign video for AG is very, very, very funny [Fashionista]
  • Burberry’s forthcoming mobile app designed to ‘build connection’ with consumers over commerce [The Drum]

RETAIL
  • Meeting millennials where they shop: Shaping the future of shopping malls [McKinsey]
  • Do digital brands need physical stores? [BoF]
  • Mall owners find relief from unlikely source: online retailers [WSJ]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Your clothes will be on the radio [Bloomberg]
  • How robots in stores could revolutionise the customer experience [Retail Dive]
  • Neiman Marcus launched voice-controlled wearables for associates [Apparel]
  • Amazon reportedly in search of creative chief for VR commerce plans [Retail Dive]
Categories
business e-commerce Editor's pick

8 unique e-commerce sites you need to bookmark immediately

Bow & Drape
Bow & Drape

As with everything digital – noise is one of the greatest barriers to success. With more players in the space, comes increased difficulty around standing out. E-commerce business is no different.

Responsive mobile sites and extensive product detail – once considered special features – are now points of parity. Ideas like free shipping, blog content and wish lists are commonplace. With consumer expectations at an all-time high, going above and beyond is harder than ever too.

Today, landing the claim of “hidden gem” particularly is no small feat. Up against established names including Net-a-Porter and Zappos, through to Farfetch, Lyst, Zalando and more, start-ups and smaller players must increasingly find ways to differentiate themselves in order to get seen. After all, it’s not just about giving shoppers reasons to visit, but convincing them it’s worth hanging around long enough to spend too.

While the specifics vary, the bulk of the success stories can be summarised under three headings: exclusivity, editorial and user experience. Read on for a highlight of eight lesser-known or particularly unique names worth checking out:


1. Shop-GhostShopghost

For a curator of high-end designer pieces, Shop-Ghost does nothing like its competition. The website is quirky and drunk with dizzied content, but somehow, it works. Tumblr-style clustered graphics are met with fragmented thoughts in “blog posts” that suggest pieces to fit the mood. The website is not searchable, does not bother with filters and offers anything BUT a clean interface. The zine formatting even forces users off the site to make the actual purchase. This is the digital version of the cluttered shop that oozes cool and finds you fleeing with three bags in tow. www.shopghost.com


2. Bow & Drape

Bow & Drape

Bow & Drape finds its niche right at the cusp of where young Millennials match up with Gen Z. This pop culture hub plays right into its market, updating simple garments with customisable and glittered-emoji makeovers, finished with the catchphrase du jour. A shoppable Instagram section also sees a witty artful take on meme-manufacturing, keyed in on ‘90s nostalgia and modern trends. www.bowanddrape.com


3. Semaine

Semaine

Each week, Semaine focuses on a new tastemaker, allowing a completely shoppable behind-the-curtains reveal into their lives. Monday begins with a short film or profile of the individual in question, while each subsequent day then features another glance into their lives, ranging from their beauty regimes to the dust collectors on their bookshelves. www.semaine.com


4. The Iconic

The Iconic

If you’re in Australia – this name won’t be new to you. For everyone else, it’s worth knowing for the unique fashion glossary on offer – a categorisation feature every site should consider implementing. The fashion conscious shopper is able to use it as a tool to quickly navigate the expansive site offerings in search of their unique piece. The fashion newcomer, however, gets a complete education in images akin to a more accurate and completely shoppable Google Image search. www.theiconic.com.au


5. Brika

Brika

Brika is the perfect online destination for the shopper with DIY pipedreams, but lack of skills to deliver. Each day, a new artist is introduced on the homepage with their story and collection featured. In search of art, home décor, jewelry, accessories or even little knick-knacks for kids, this is the destination that breeds the perfect kitsch meets craft item. www.brika.com


6. Shoes of Prey

Shoes of Prey

For the love of shoes, a woman need look no further than Shoes of Prey, which enables users to customise every aspect of their footwear, from sole to zipper. What makes this a standout offering is the expansive colour selection and a complete 360-degree view of the final designs. www.shoesofprey.com


7. Of a Kind

Of a Kind

This one may already be on your list – if it’s not, it’s really time to bookmark it. An online concept store, it specialises in limited runs of items created especially for its website. The supply side of the operation comes from emerging designers, which further appeals to the quaint luxury of the setup. The special items are deemed “# of a kind”, letting the consumer know just how unique their buy is. Each item is also paired with a beautifully photographed story, similar pieces to curate a collection and non-exclusive add-ons that make the look. www.ofakind.com


8. Vide Dressing

Vide Dressing

The consignment model is completely revamped by Vide Dressing – the eBay of the pre-owned luxury fashion market. Sellers post their goods, get them checked over by a legal team for authenticity and then have 72 hours to ship to their buyer after purchase. The unique feature that sets Vide Dressing apart from competitors such as Vestiaire Collective is a money-back guarantee within 48 hours of product receipt. www.videdressing.co.uk