Online or Offline Shopping? Do Both with Fashionism

By David Knight |

Eagerly-awaited shopping app Fashionism has finally launched its field test in Berlin, combining the advantages of buying clothes on and offline. Two of the co-founders, CEO Herman Frank and head of communications Julana Chondrasch, spoke to Silicon Allee about what they want to achieve with the new service.

The app works by offering the user a selection of high-end fashion products based on their gender, age and current location. You are presented with a wide variety of items on sale at nearby shops, and if anything catches your fancy, you can find information such as brand, price and store location in one touch.

Fashionism was given a soft launch on Wednesday with the free service currently containing up to 50 stores in Mitte. Hermann explained how it’s all about inspiration: “We want to map everything that is sold on the ground in offline retail. So if you are looking for some jeans, you’ll be shown every pair of jeans that is available around you. That’s the core proposition to the user. It’s an inspirational platform, you’ll be inspired by products, because we believe that search is not the right way to get in touch with them.”

An Emotional Response

The visual aspect is key to the service, with users seeing lots of pictures before accessing any information about the products, and the emotional response is at the heart of what makes Fashionism tick.

In traditional shopping, Hermann says, there is an emotional and social interaction between product and buyer. You get in touch with the product, you can try it on before you buy it, and the social aspect is the feedback you get from the store personnel or from your friends. Then there is online shopping which makes it easy to browse a broad range of products within a very short time and then order what you want. But you don’t receive it immediately – you have to wait for it to arrive, then maybe you have to exchange it because you couldn’t try it on beforehand. Yet it is an emotional experience; shoppers tend to make more impulse purchases when it comes to fashion.

“So what we do is combine those two worlds,” Hermann said. “We make it emotionally and socially interactive, not only in the store but you can also send out our content to your friends on Facebook or Tumblr or Twitter. And of course you can browse a tremendous amount of content in a very short time but then you can go there and try it on; you don’t have to wait.”

It’s a concept that appears to have caught the imagination of shoppers not just in Berlin but around the world, with a beachwear manufacturer having already contacted the startup to enquire about running his selling strategy through them. There is still plenty to do in Germany, though, before the service can go international – Hermann remains convinced it will work, however: “This idea will spread, and so will our approach and our product.”

Let Yourself be Inspired

Hermann originally came up with the idea for Fashionism while at university. He studied in Maastricht and then in Milan, where contact with the fashion industry piqued his interest. He reveals the concept became an obsession for him and he eventually moved to Berlin on his own to set it up.

Julana was amongst those who came on board having previously been involved in building up the fashion department at 7trends. She said: “Whenever you feel you need inspiration or you want to discover things or you’re looking for something specific, you can open the app and it’s a discovery process and you can let yourself be inspired. It’s very convenient and time efficient.”

For stores, on the other hand, it’s a great form of mobile marketing: “You want your products to be visible. Our app enables people to actually find your things even if they don’t know your store – in Mitte, for example, there are so many little stores that you may not know about. The app makes it visible to users, so you will be discovered.”

As for how Fashionism will eventually make money, Hermann is remaining coy, although he did point that that “we can do the most targeted marketing you can imagine because we can target an exact consumer group by age and any other kind of demographics at the right location and at the right time.” The actual service will always remain free of charge, he added.

There has been plenty of interest in the Fashionism model, not least from This Week in Start Ups – they reached the final at last Friday’s pitch competition. And Hermann is nothing if not passionate about his baby: “Why did I do this in fashion and not in electronics? I believe that the fashion community is much more engaged and passionate about what they do; fashion is a very emotional thing. This was important to me. You can serve people who really love the product.”