If you’re still looking only to New York, London or Paris for fashion ideas, you’re behind the times. Fashion is everywhere – and at Israel’s Sense of Fashion you’ll see the latest in the new world of couture. At the website, fashionistas across the globe can upload their photos, buy and sell clothing and accessories, and even help each other, pointing out fashion “dos and don’ts” on-line.
Fashion – the kind that real people wear – is being created all over the world, says Daria Shualy, CEO of Sense of Fashion. “I interviewed Donna Karan for Ha’aretz last year, and she told me that nowadays, she goes more and more to out of the way places – suburbs, smaller towns and cities – to get ideas about what trends are hot,” Shualy tells ISRAEL21c.
But with Sense of Fashion, Karan (and anyone else who wants to keep up with the latest hot trends) can check out the photo galleries and posts put up by members, who are using the site to see and be seen.
What LinkedIn and Facebook have done for business and personal relationships, Sense of Fashion hopes to do for lovers of couture.
“Our goal is to become the largest online fashion gallery, a social commerce arena for personal fashion – a place where illustrators, designers, fashion students, street fashion bloggers, photographers, artists and lovers of fashion can get together, get to know each other, and even sell each other their styles,” says Shualy.
Wear it for the world
Shualy says that fashion isn’t just something that happens at the big Paris shows, and goes on to describe it as a living, fresh thing that’s reinvented every day “by innovative designers around the world who have come up with a new way of expressing themselves through color, fabric, or other aspects of style. For designers who have come up with something new and different, the best way to get noticed is to wear it; you’re guaranteed to have people on the street stop you and ask where you got that great outfit or wild pair of shoes. It’s happened to me more than once,” she says.
Thanks to the power of the internet – and specifically, the social aspects of web surfing – you can now “wear” your fashion creations online, where people all over the world can see them. Fashion is no longer a local phenomenon and instead of having to hunt down the latest and greatest trends, they come to you.
“There are great ideas coming from the most out of the way places, and there is no way anyone, including the top designers, can visit all these centers of fashion,” explains Shualy.
It’s free to join, and all Sense of Fashion members get their own online gallery, where they can upload an unlimited amount of photos. Users check out each other’s images, comment and leave feedback. You can tag your photos, too, so people can link to the stores or sites where you bought the items.
If your look is attractive enough, people might want to buy your creations – and Sense of Fashion helps make it happen. For a small fee, users can advertise and sell their products on the site.
Fashion emergency option
Israel’s high-tech community is excited about the commercial side of the site, and the company generated some great buzz at recent shows featuring Web 2.0 sites and services. Sense of Fashion’s solid business model appeals to investors: The site takes a listing fee for products that are offered, and a three percent commission for completed sales.
But it’s not just about selling stuff, Shualy tells ISRAEL21c. “There are plenty of sites where you can buy or even sell clothes. But Sense of Fashion is the only site that is fostering a fashion community, where independent designers – not just the ‘big guys’ – can see and be seen, and sell their goods as well. It’s a very holistic experience. Even if you choose not to sell or buy, you can participate in the community by uploading photos for free and getting feedback.
“We even have a feature called ‘fashion emergency,’ where you can ask others on the site for a thumbs up or thumbs down on your look,” she continues, adding that along with individuals, boutique and store owners have used this feature to get an idea of how the fashion-conscious public feels about a style they’re thinking of selling.
And it’s not just small boutiques and independent designers who are using Sense of Fashion – it’s big fashion chains, as well.
“That’s how street fashion works,” Shualy explains. “You get a top from a big chain like the Gap, a pair of shoes from an independent boutique that works with a small designer, and a belt or purse from someone working out of their home who has come up with a funky design.”
Israeli location is advantage
Shualy has extensive experience in both fashion and web design, and content, and her partners – Yael Givon and Yariv Habot – have a strong background in marketing and web application development, respectively.
Based in Tel Aviv, Shualy says that being in Israel is a great boon to the site’s fashion perspective. “First of all, the startup community here in Israel is fantastic, everyone is supportive of each other and helps out wherever it’s needed.”
And being located in Israel, far from the fashion scene in New York, Paris and London, is actually an advantage. “We’re not focused on the fashion centers, although we do pay attention to what goes on at the big shows,” Shualy says.
“But Sense of Fashion is more about organic fashion, as it happens, and as it is led by innovative people around the world. By not being in New York, for example, we can have a greater perspective on what goes on elsewhere, and not get swallowed up by ‘the scene’ there. Even the big labels are looking beyond the centers for ideas,” she adds.
And with a sound business model and a great take on social computing, Sense of Fashion is one of the places those designers are undoubtedly going to be looking.