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DressYou.com – Giving Social Networking a Fashion Makeover November 26, 2007

Posted by thedotcomillusionist in Startup.
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As we are catapulted into the next generation, there are a few observations that I’ve noted (obviously to the benefit of my argument and business idea) –

  • The Internet gives people the ability to access vast amounts of information faster than two shakes of a kitten’s whiskers.

  • Networking platforms allows us to expand our networking capability beyond any other methods previously capable.

  • Humans are visual creatures. As technology advances, services providing more rich media features that does not sacrifice load time and intuition will win out over those with less media rich features.

  • Despite many of today’s conveniences, people find themselves with less and less time.

Now, I am a big fan of today’s social networking goliath’s, and this idea has the potential to become an opensocial or facebook application, with its already giant membership which could possibly lead to instant success. But for some reason, whether it be my limited knowledge of extending Facebook applications or my selfishness of maximizing revenue by defining my own website architecture, this warrants its own social network.

So lets pick an industry. A non-tech industry will allow us to piggy back on an interest group that may not have necessarily found the Internet to be the most intuitive way to address their interests. I wanted the focus to be on an exciting industry, where innovation and creativity thrives in very many directions and niches, but at the same time, there is a maturity, and there are leading industry players with deep pockets. Advertising is key because product lines are constantly being reinvented to conform to the seasonal trends, therefore, there is a huge budget.

Along comes DressYou.com, a social network with a focus around fashion. Users will be able to connect with friends on a level of engagement previously not available, with the use to avatar technology. In addition, DressYou.com will also serve as a virtual dressing room platform for users to try on clothes online before purchasing.

Every business idea should be focused around a problem and a solution.

  • People will always buy clothes. Packing on some weight, worn out clothes, or just trying to stay on top of your game. But how often do you have the time to go shopping? Even if you do, who wants to go shopping with high school kids or old ladies? (Before you think about asking where I shop, just stop yourself right there). Online shopping is the only other alternative (other than catalog/phone orders, which are so last decade), but how many people do you know that won’t shop online because they are afraid that the clothes won’t fit? DressYou will standardize the sizes so that the clothes will be true to size according to the measurements that you provide.

  • Boutique brands have difficulty marketing their products. Issues with finances or marketing prowess, DressYou.com aims to level the playing field by putting brands side by side.

  • A more personal means to network. Photos are great, and already create a pretty deep level of engagement for users. DressYou intends to bring this to another level, from past to present, from reactive to proactive. Can you see the difference between –

    • You look so professional in that picture!” vs “Looking very professional today, got a meeting?”

    • T-shirt at this time of year? You must have been freezing!” vs “Looks like a cold day today, Hope you brought a coat with you.”

    • That shirt looks so tacky!” vs “That shirt looks so tacky, go home during your lunch and change!”

    DressYou.com users can update their avatar on a daily basis to display what they’re wearing. Hypothetically, a fashionably handicapped boyfriend in New York can be dressed by his girlfriend living in San Francisco. Or a boyfriend can try clothes on his girlfriend’s avatar before purchasing and sending in time for Christmas “Ah, clothes with stripes will help to hide that muffin top.”

Marketing – Most brands have a website by now. But many are unsure about online advertising outside of its own website (or at least the websites that I frequent). I’m certain that the majority of the advertising budget for most of these corporations still go to traditional media channels – print, radio, and television. Even if I do come across a Gap or Abercrombie banner advertisement, I don’t remember, because my mind has been predisposed to overlook useless content. Its not a level of engagement thats convertible, remember? Television commercials are highly visual (visual=engaging) and entertaining if done correctly, but is there an equal on the internet? Sure, put in a picture of a scantily dressed model, and there are enough people (including myself) that may click through to see more pictures, but how many of those impulse clicks will convert?

So, then what will you do to monetize? Focus selling (literally) the service, by the article clothing uploaded in the database, and charge more (eBay style) by bolding some products. Make a featured section, or start out a new user’s avatar in all LRG clothes. Banner advertisements? If people want to spend tons of money to put themselves on every pageview, why not, although the focus should be on the service, not the ads, because putting products in the database for all users is an means to expose your brand through a new channel.

Competitors? There are a ton of competitors, although non are direct. Major online retailers, like Amazon have an ecommerce-type focus. But no avatars. There are services that do some type of variation – Zwinky, Cafe.com, and many more (which leads me to believe that this is a project that will be difficult to accomplish). Very interesting concepts, although it may not achieve the same thing. Avatar focused, and its very cartoonish. I’m not suggesting to use a picture from a photo (adult acne, scars, wicked shirt tan may be counterintuitive to the mission at hand), but take a real photo, give it a Charles Schwab or A Scanner Darkly-type effect, and then let the user control the body by giving it Second Life-type options.

                

 

Will corporate retailers buy the business concept? There are already a ton of retail aggregation ecommerce websites. But do the business plans represent a win-win situation? If your focus is taking a cut of the profits from the user or the clothing label, perhaps? I’m still a little uneasy. But what if the conversion process means redirecting the user to the clothing label website to make the purchase over there, and DressYou.com does not take a cut from the transaction? Sounds like a better business proposition. Even if there was a small conversion fee, it still sounds like a better proposition than a regular cookie cutter clothing ecommerce site.

Mobile – The big differentiator between this and other social networks is the concept of proactive vs reactive, so it would make sense to incorporate a mobile angle. Waiting for the coffee to brew? Commuting to work? Waiting for class to start? Access the DressYou mobile application and tell us what you’re wearing, by either inputting a unique ID number or browsing through a list.

Programming – A dash of php, jscript for user interface, a cup of MySql for backend, a tablespoon of Flash for the Avatar technology, pinch of Brew/Java for the mobile application, and a teaspoon of illustrator/whatever for the cartoonizer rendering effect are the ingredients to make this website? This is why I haven’t already formed a team for this site and where the technical readers come in. C’mon!

Bottom line. User gets to dress themselves or their friends up with brand label clothes, giving a level of engagement never before seen, and DressYou doesn’t hard sell because they care about their members equals a great user experience. Sound disruptive? You’re damn right it does.

Have I tantalized your entrepreneurial brown eye yet? I haven’t registered the DressYou.com domain, so don’t bother trying to go there, and if it gets registered, I’ll know one of my readers is an ass. Feel free to drop comments in the meantime, I plan to move this entire blog over to a hosted, drupal created site in the next few weeks.

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Comments»

1. Neill Kramer - November 27, 2007

You may want to loo at:
http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/home

fyi
Neill

2. thedotcomillusionist - November 27, 2007

Neill,

Good call. Have actually come across that website a month ago. Really great site, esp considering that its now linked up to facebook. What I really like is how you can take items from other websites, so the company doesn’t have to do its own indexing of everything out there manually, but I think it’ll run into some problems in the long run.


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