How would it feel to have a professional stylist providing you with smart tips and fashion advice via a mobile phone app? Danae Varangis is here to make this true through the DV Closet mobile app.
I live and work in London since I was 18 years old. Since then, alongside my studies in Media and Political Science at the London College of Communication (University of the Arts London), I’ve spent a lot of time in various fashion and communication companies such as Condé Nast International, London Ethnic, Synergy Events and London Fashion Week. At some point I decided to combine fashion and technology. The result was DV Closet. What I wanted to do was to develop an app introducing fashion to the technology world; a space for fashion professionals as well as fashion enthusiasts, where everyone can give and be profited from otherwise expensive and inaccessible services.
How did you come up with the DV Closet idea? Are there any similar apps in the market? And if yes, how does DV Closet stand out?
DV Closet is the result of collective thinking, aka brainstorming within the corporate world. However, the initial idea emerged from my work experience in fashion (Abercrombie & Fitch, London Fashion Week, Londn Ethnic, Conde Nast International) and the realisation that there was a gap between technology and the fashion industry that needed to be filled. While fashion, retail-wise, was among the first industries profited by the benefits of technology, as far as the services and functionality are concerned it’s been left quite behind and in difficulty to keep a close contact with consumers. That’s why I came up with the idea of providing fashion services. At first, DV Closet arrived to introduce the concept of styling to this new era. What we do is called Virtual Styling; it’s new and innovative, especially on a European level. There have been some similar attempts in the past in the U.S but none of them in this form and definitely not fully organised. What makes DV Closet innovative and different, is that we provide a service, I.e styling, which is considered a luxury to the everyday consumer. Even more, we provide it for free. All these fast and directly from fashion professionals via your mobile phone.
How does DV Closet work and what services are on offer?
The application is quite easy to use and it aims at the average mobile app user. The first step is to download the app for free via Apple Store. Then, there’s the sign up process which lasts a few seconds and unlocks all the services on offer. The latter, enables everyone to get in contact with the available professionals in the country of residence. For Greece, these services are personal styling and personal shopping. The user can send immediately and cost-free a photograph to fashionistas and friends in order to receive comments and suggestions, as well as to call any available professional of his choice and through video call to discuss any styling suggestions and questions. Also, the user can check the profiles of our professionals and go shopping with the fashionista of choice, based on availability or alternatively to ask him to go shopping on his behalf. Through the app, every user has access to a personal calendar, enabling him to check all the photos sent previously. Last but not least, the app allows the user to visit our online store and check upon everything on offer and suggestions.
How did Londoners respond to the project? Is it available in other countries as well?
Since the official launching, i.e November 2016, the response has been very encouraging. So, far, we have 5,000 customers worldwide, 60% of them approx. from the UK, mainly London. Only during last month, about 600 new users signed up. The app is on the increase in all 26 countries – where it’s available – mainly in China and in the U.S.
How does DV Closet secure its revenue? Does it work through subscriptions or sponsored by clothing brands?
DV Closet started with a EUR 35 investment. Then, the whole project was funded with EUR 12,000 through the rewards crowdfunding program, namely the Kickstarter. We participated in an Amazon competition through which we received a USD 24,000 reward in services. Subsequently, we contacted several investors who more than doubled the previous investments. The app works usage-wise, same as any other mega company of the same kind, such as Facebook, as well as with commission on customer transactions, as Uber does. Aside all that, support and collaborations with fashion professionals and brands is really important as well. As we evolve, we re-adapt the model and our partnerships, increasing our streams of income.
Why should someone consult DV Closet instead of a major and reliable fashion magazine?
Unlike all major fashion magazines which cost and are being published once a month or once every three months resulting in the loss of individuality which is in turn the real essence of styling, DV Closet provides direct, reliable and personalised advice from fashion experts, for free.
Both, the set-up and structure of this app, seem to be addressed to a younger audience, the so-called millenials.
DV Closet is addressed to all age groups. Our youngest user is 16, while the oldest is 62. That’s because our stylists are not limited to a specific age group. In general, out users are between 16 and 24 years of age and, that’s because this age group is more familiar with technology. Based on a survey conducted in Britain in collaboration Censuswide, 68% of people under the age of 35 in Britain, believe that sending a photo in order to receive an immediate feedback while trying on clothes, is the best way to get it right.
Which qualities should a professional have in order to work with you? How many colleagues do you have at the moment?
Like several digital platforms, DV Closet employs different partner categories; developers, designers, fashionistas, marketers and many other different types of consultants. At the moment there are 18 of them worldwide and their common characteristic is their love and passion for DV Closet, fashion and technology. As for stylists, their key features vary according to the country, age group and fashion trends.
How could DV become a true competitive and established market player?
The limit on tech platforms is determined by the global tech structures. A few days ago, facebook founder, Mark Zuckenberg, announced that his company counts more than 2 billion users. Obviously, we propose a much more specialized product. However, based on a research, we believe that we could exceed the 250,000 users, in London only. As far as the services we provide in order to remain competitive, they are developing as we grow. As a result, we keep adding new features and drop the consumer fees.
Why did you decide to work in the app field? Do you think this is the future?
We live in the technology era. This is the web 3.0 stage and we are moving to a period called the Internet of Things. In other words, the world has changed and corporations ought to realise it. As we know, the biggest taxi company in the world, Uber, doesn’t own a single taxi and the largest Real estate management company AirBnB doesn’t own property.
Did your studies helped you in delivering this idea? Do major universities lead students to technology and the internet by rejecting the traditional media? And is traditional media dead?
My studies definitely helped in the way I am and think. My professors supported my choices but I don’t believe that they consciously turned us against traditional media. The latter, I don’t think is dead, not even close. I just think that it needs to be modelled to meet the current demands.
Do you think that DV could be based in a physical space as well?
DV Closet is a digital product. As such it’s not in need of a physical space. However, the consumer technological maturity implies the contact with people in person, in physical spaces.
Do you have any hobbies or the app keeps you busy full-time?
DV Closet is a very demanding project, which keeps me busy for more than 70 hours a week. I believe in it very much. When I started it in 2015, I took the risk and didn’t renew my work agreement with the company I was working at that time. I give 100% of myself. However, I try to find some spare time and do other things, such as sports, going out with my friends and walking my dog Brandy, all of which are important to me.
How do you want for the DV Closet to be until 2018?
I want it to grow enough so that it can provide all its services for free and to be able to use technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, as well as to highlight uniqueness and diversity.
Words by Lazaros Tzovaras