“UK shoppers have £30 billion worth of unworn clothes hanging in their wardrobes. 60% of the items bought by UK shoppers in 2017 were in landfill by 2018,” says Ruaraidh Grubb, founder of fashion tech startup Own-Kind. “At Own-Kind we want to give your time back and empower you to make the most of your wardrobe, reducing some of the waste and pollution of the fashion industry.”
Launched in 2018, Own-Kind wants to be the answer to all your wardrobe stress by digitising it and providing you with style advice based on the items you own, for free. “Upload any images that contain your wardrobe items (including outfit selfies, Insta posts etc) and our platform will extract, edit and tag your wardrobe items, adding them to your wardrobe tab within the App,” says Ruaraidh. “You can then plan and track outfits and reach out to a personal stylist within the App to ask for free styling services.”
The idea of Own-Kind came from a real-life frustration. “My girlfriend is constantly turning the flat into her "floordrobe". I got a pretty good understanding of how much time she spends thinking about getting dressed as I would spend most of it waiting for her,” explains Ruaraidh. “It seems ridiculous that the best system we have today is a wardrobe - a massive box that just sits there. I did some research and found out that many people experience the same wardrobe-related stresses as my girlfriend and thought about potential solutions. Being able to browse your wardrobe, plan outfits and get styling advice - all from the palm of your hand, for free, seems like a good one.”
The company operates on a business-to-business-to-consumer basis (B2B2C): it’s free for end users and provides a white-label version of its app enabling brands & retailers to provide the luxury of personal shopping with the convenience of online to their customers. “The most common response from our users is "relief" - feeling confident you have your look sorted for that event you were nervous about,” says Ruaraidh. And the brand appeal? “Traditional e-comm is one-sided: "Here is my website. Come and have a look". Own-Kind allows brands to create a personalised, interactive relationship with customers,” continues Ruaraidh. “When you request a styling session, the stylist in question gets access to your digital wardrobe so they can really understand you. You can chat with your stylist in relation to each look they create so they can help get you to a place where you are delighted with the results.”
Through Own-Kind, shoppers can enjoy personalised services, while retailers and brands - a direct relationship with potential customers. Another perk is the ability to optimise your wardrobe and learn how to style items in a way that creates a variety of outfits, instead of wearing the same combinations again and again. Or even worse - to leave items unworn.
Ruaraidh wants to build up on the sustainability angle of Own-Kind by offering a VIP resale service. “We were offering a VIP service where we would take care of all aspects of resale for you and list your items on our Pro Seller account, for free. We have discontinued the VIP service for the moment as the demand started to outpace our capacity, but we are still working on this - the idea is that you once you have digitised your wardrobe, you can feed them straight into Vestiaire / Depop with a lot more ease (e.g. no need to tag your images and wait for them to get edited).”
The startup is currently in the early stages of some exciting pilots which will hopefully let the company scale in a streamlined way. ”Our biggest challenge is time,” says Ruaraidh. “We're growing at a pretty manic speed right now and the days just slip away!”
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