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    Date submitted
  • 19-Feb-2016

Utique

Abstract

IN/LINE is a fashion showroom solution improving the efficiency and data-driven insights of wholesale buying appointments. After interning at Alexander Wang and M5’s Showrooms, it was apparent that even top luxury fashion brands still lack a modern software that can take advantage of their data insights and automate repetitive tasks. With our experience working in these showrooms, we developed a product flow and feature list that answers these repetitive tasks including appointment scheduling, digital webrooming, performance data visualization, and quick order creation.

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Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

We are targeting multi-brand showrooms as our initial customer and hope to expand to young wholesale buyers at major retailers as we gain traction. We are aiming at multi-brand showrooms because they already have a community of brands to adopt our software and a diverse retail client list to test our product with. This way, we will be able to avoid the troubles of populating a two sided market by partnering with the existing middle man. We have interned at M5 Showroom (an Italian multi-brand showroom) to learn about their market week set-up and appointment process. After surveying many other showrooms in New York, we have decided to beta test our product with M5 Showroom in mid-April.

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

The fashion industry is changing rapidly. On the consumer side we have seen waves of department stores shutting down and the rise of online sales. This transition to online has been a blessing for many companies who have been able to embrace the new omni-channel norm. However on the wholesale side (⅓ of the entire fashion market cap), most brands have not been as receptive to new technologies disrupting the traditional showroom methods and have paid tremendously because of this. “Brands know what sells the best, so we’re taking ownership in wholesale now and partnering with (retailers) in a very different kind of way.” - Tory Burch

What attributes will make this idea/product successful? Why do you believe that those features will create success?

Our team has performed extensive primary research within wholesale fashion in order to fully understand the technical pain points of the industry. We have interviewed stakeholders from every side of the showroom – directors of showrooms, sales associates, models, large retail buyers, independent buyers. We have also shadowed in two different showrooms in New York City. The first was Alexander Wang’s showroom during Market Week for their Spring 2018 collection. This is was our first exposure to the tedious, inefficient, and manual practices of wholesale buying. Then this spring, looking for validations in our observations we made at Alexander Wang, our team worked at M5 a multi-brand luxury sportswear showroom. While working at M5 we learned that very similar technical issues that were happening in a single brand showroom (Alexander Wang) were also happening in a multi brand showroom (M5). Having this research gives us the knowledge and confidence that the features of our technology will directly and effectively cut out the inefficiencies in the showroom process. We understand that when inputting a digital system into a traditionally manual experience – the technology must be a tool rather than a hindrance to the process. Our research makes us confident that the product we are building is a needed tool in the industry.

Explain how you (your team) will execute to make this idea/product successful? What gives you (your team) an advantage over others already in the market or new to this market?

My team and I have traveled to New York twice in the last 4 months to learn the inner workings of the wholesale fashion industry. We have developed strong industry connections and have began talks of a partnership with M5 Showroom. The demand for this product has allowed us to connect with top executives and fashion thought-leaders at Barneys, MoMa, Instagram, Global Brands Group, and Future Tech Lab to receive feedback and a level of mentorship about our idea. A major advantage our team has over those looking into the wholesale and fashion industries is our team’s background. Two of us are members in the inaugural class of the Iovine and Young Academy which combines design, technology, and business while another is a senior in the Viterbi School of Engineering studying computer science. At Alexander Wang we were extremely confused and baffled by the lack of technology used within the showroom ordering process. But, for many other young people with fashion or merchandising backgrounds who were also working in the showroom – this experience is the way that wholesale business is done. Solely from our background and, truthfully, our inexperience within the industry, we saw this terrible system as an opportunity to create something that revolutionized the way showrooms are run.