Fashion Stylists: even the fashionable need help too

As I’m standing outside Valley Arcade waiting for yet another ‘Uber’, laden with 10 lux bags and set wardrobe I have to deliver before deadline, I’m painfully reminded that the life of a fashion stylist isn’t always a pretty glamorous affair. Sure, there are those that will rub shoulders with the rich, attractive, or both. Get to walk the runway at Fashion Week, or at least be flown to sit among the who’s who. And they never seem to have a poor picture of themself plus they’re surrounded by all this beautiful stuff. Some of them even get freebies of things even your subconscious won’t allow you to own in your dreams. But it’s one of the hardest and arduous jobs in the fashion industry, especially in Kenya. (And we’ve not even begun to talk about the underpayment or lack of payment thereof, but I digress). Whether you’re a personal stylist or live the life of back-to-back shoots, wouldn’t it be great to make technology work for you? Here are just some platforms that could be the motivation the local industry needs:

TOG AND PORTER

Why you should know them: They’ve taken personalised retail service with customer convenience at the heart of it. In this case, it’s the client that doesn’t want to go the stores, or have to drive to the stylist’s place of business for fittings or to collect their order. Working with real stylists to create personalised boxes with select items for each client.

How it works: Once a client has signed up, provided basic information and available budget, they meet their stylist for at least 30 minutes via Skype for them to curate their first TogBox. Once the client has received the first shipment, there is a ‘style showing’ session where the client tries on the items sent in order for the stylist to narrow down the precise requirements each client needs to tailor make their experience for them. The client keeps what they love and sends back what doesn’t work.

[Image: courtesy of Coleman Chronicles / Tog and Porter]
[Image: courtesy of Coleman Chronicles / Tog and Porter]
THREAD

[Image: Courtesy of Thread]
[Image: Courtesy of Thread]
Why you should know them: They took algorithms, such as the one Netflix uses, to curate fashion looks for their clients. That means combining the expertise of skilled human beings that comprehend fashion nuances or the subjective tastes, trend cycles and gatekeepers, and the intelligence of algorithms to offer more competent fashion recommendations.

How it works: The free platform asks users to sign up and provide detailed information via their multi-part questionnaire that covers everything from brand preference and spending range per product category, to dressing habits and personal style. They then talk to human stylists via live chat who refine the customer’s profile. Once all the data is in, an algorithm searches through its database made up of 10,000 hand-created outfits in order to send their customers five new looks at the end of each working week. Customers are asked to rate the looks in order to refine their profiles and ultimately feed the algorithm further. The site deals mostly with menswear at the moment, but has managed to get just under 10,000 clients with at least 40% logging in during the week. This is from a demographic that historically is considered to have poor engagement with fashion.

Thread CEO Kieran O'Neill [Image: courtesy of Wired UK]
Thread CEO Kieran O’Neill [Image: courtesy of Wired UK]
FITS.ME

Why you should know them: Three words – virtual fitting room. You want to ensure as little returns as possible if you’re a personal stylist and if you’re doing it for a shoot, it probably will reduce the number of clothes you’ll have to pin onto the poor model.

How it works: While looking to purchase a certain item online, the website helps the customer assess just how well that particular item would fit them. It acts for details such as your measurements in order to create a virtual mannequin of sorts that has your dimensions. Like playing dress up, the mannequin will wear the same item of clothing so the customer can have a clearer idea if it would be flattering. The bonus of all this is that the data the website gains from its customers is going into improving the clothing labels and designer’s approach to their collections.

Fits Me Femme Bot [Image: Courtesy of Fits Me]
Fits Me Femme Bot [Image: Courtesy of Fits Me]
PS DEPT

Why you should know them: This is the 24/7 speed dial stylist at your service because fashion waits for no [wo] man. Imagine if the stylists in Kenya came together to create an app like this that would not only cater to the individuals who have had the experience of receiving a curated look, but also tap into the thousands of Instagram or Pinterest users who didn’t even know it was a possibility to get affordable styling services. It would also be a great platform for stylists to promote local designers works by exposing more of what is locally made that is close to or compliments into western or foreign trends.

How it works: Whether a client is looking for tips on the best way to wear the latest trend, or they need an outfit to an upcoming wedding, they can reach a personal stylist at a time that is convenient to them. This app gives shoppers access to expert advice be it for one item of clothing or a whole ensemble and then the ability to buy those items from brands or stores directly through the app.

[Image: Courtesy of PS Dept]
[Image: Courtesy of PS Dept]
STYLESHOOTS

Why you should know them: StyleShoots machines give the stylists more power during a photo-shoot. It hosts several features that help stylists save time, catalogue, and edit shoots in real time just to mention a few. No wonder companies such as Marks & Spencer and Billabong are already using it and singing its praises.

How it works: It has an iPad barcode scanner that will help you catalogue each item photographed and in the correct order. Live View allows the stylists to preview what the final image will look like and works with overlays to achieve maximum consistency in each shot, saving time used in trying to achieve the perfect set of pictures. The colour accuracy system works with the lights setting and environmental conditions to produce the best possible pictures that aren’t degraded easily by the process of uploading them to the web page/internet. In essence, it’s taking care of a lot of the functions in order to help the stylist focus on highlighting the aspects of the garment that make it stand out.

[Image: Courtesy of Styleshoots]
[Image: Courtesy of Styleshoots]
CLOTH and NETROBE

Why you should know them: This app creates the platform to digitally archive an entire wardrobe. This concept can help a stylist refer to what items they actually have in stock or what combinations they’ve done before with said stock. Or it could help them virtually mark the clothes they’ve brought to a shoot, arrange them and ensure the right combinations are made and nothing is forgotten. Netrobe is a similar concept to Cloth, but with the additional feature that helps prevent outfit repeating. In this case, stylists would keep from making the same combinations too often and prevent from hiding from ‘outfit repeater’ shame.

[Image: Courtesy of Netrobe]
[Image: Courtesy of Netrobe]
How it works: It simply requires the user to take pictures of their daily outfits, or the pieces that make up their wardrobe. Then it gives you the option to put them into categories such as Sunday best, power meetings, vacations, etc. It also allows you to mix and match between the categories to find new ways to contribute to your personal style. Now imagine if designers and stylists worked together to catalogue their work so that a stylist could run wild in that candy factory to create the most iconic looks possible or at least style choices that will build them a recurring customer base. It could also allow stylists to work with new releases- when it comes to retail stores, to create time sensitive shoots that work in the interest of both parties. It would eliminate the hours of ground work searching for clothes, queuing with actual shoppers to have clothes processed and cleared.

[Image: Courtesy of Cloth]
[Image: Courtesy of Cloth]
This list is no way exhaustive and you’re more than welcome to share neat finds you’ve heard about or experienced as a stylist. If you’ve found one that recreates ideas in the stylist’s mind, straight onto a mood board, we’ll be eternally grateful for access to that! 🙂

In the meantime, head here  to know more about Kenyan stylists and the incredible work they do even without all the fancy bells and whistles.

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