Polish start-ups – they’re in fashion!
The sale of Polish fashion start-up Showroom to German global media company Burda International this past summer was a major event that caused even those not interested in fashion to pay attention. In the wake of Showroom’s success, we take a look at several other Polish fashion start-ups and the e-commerce platforms and IoT technologies that are quickly revolutionizing the world of fashion in Poland and abroad
The big players on the fashion market
When talking about fashion start-ups in Poland, the most obvious companies to mention are the platforms for selling products by independent designers, like Showroom, Mustache and MyBaze.com, the latter of which can be thought of as Poland’s answer to Etsy. However, that’s just the tip of the fashion iceberg. For example, the largest fashion e-commerce platform in Poland is not any of the above-mentioned shops – it’s actually Allegro, Poland’s answer to eBay, which has 57% of the entire e-commerce market in Poland – and 46% of e-commerce in the fashion industry in Poland, of which 85% are fashion brands or professional re-sellers.
Another major player is Shoplo, an e-commerce platform that lets any fashion brand open up their own online shop and sell directly to their customers without having to worry about building their own payment gateway or website from scratch. Thanks to Shoplo, Polish designers and brands such as By Insomnia, Gummie, LeMat or Mapaya have gained loyal shoppers.
Augmenting fashion with new technology
There are other branches of Polish technology that many people don’t even consider when they think of the fashion industry, such as the Internet of Things or 3D printing. However, Poland’s main beacon manufacturers such as Estimote and Kontakt.io are both working closely with fashion retailers to completely change the shopping experience for anyone with a smartphone. Beacons are the same technology that are behind the very successful Woolet smart wallet, which recently made waves not only for its functionality, but for its fashionable design.
As far as 3D printing is concerned, fashion designers are just another type of maker ready to implement this technology. The start-up Ecoteria allows people to 3D print fashion accessories such as bracelets, watch straps and other jewelry and sells their products on their site, working closely with designers. Other designers have used Zortrax’s 3D printers to make their own accessories for sale.
Augmented reality is another emerging trend in the tech world, and fashion start-ups are beginning to take advantage of it as well. Maskom is a software house specializing in augmented reality, and is creating a virtual fitting room using the technology, so you can try on clothing without actually trying it on. Similarly, another start-up in a different industry that’s making an impact in fashion is Leia Display System. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s meant to evoke the scene in Star Wars when a hologram of Leia appears from R2D2. Today, it’s already being used on the runway during fashion shows.
Fashion start-ups that let you create a unique style
Perhaps the biggest trend that can be noticed in global fashion that’s becoming big in Poland as well is customization. Two fashion start-ups in particular, Demish and Fun in Design, let you pick an item such as a jacket, pair of shoes or bag, choose the style, color and materials, and have it delivered to your door. However, another start-up, Modsly, goes one step further, letting you design your own fashion line without once touching a sewing machine. The free web app lets you create and item of clothing or several, all online. Modsly then sells, manufactures and delivers the product, while the profits are split.
And if that seems too difficult, why not just order something by liking it on Instagram? That’s exactly what LikeAndBuy.it lets you do. If Instagram is not your thing but you love reading magazines, the start-up Fashionote is based around an app that lets you order the clothing and accessories you see on the pages of your favorite fashion magazines right from the app. Have clothing, but not sure what to wear? The Clotify app for Android or iOS is your virtual closet in the cloud, where you can upload pictures of your outfits and then virtually mix and match them no matter where you are.
Or forget buying clothing altogether, that’s so last year. TheCloth.es is an outfit delivery service that lets you rent clothing for one week, then mail it back. You might as well get rid of your washing machine!
Geek goes chic in Poland
Being fairly unfashionable ourselves, we decided to talk to a real fashion and tech expert to find out more about Polish fashion start-ups. Kasia Gola has been blogging at GeekGoesChic.Co since 2011. She’s the organizer of the Fashion and Technology Meet-up, which took place at hub:raum Krakow in November 2014, and writes often about the business side of fashion, fashion marketing, and of course, fashion start-ups in Poland and abroad. Being at the intersection of tech and fashion, it’s perhaps no surprise that she literally wrote the Agile Fashion Manifesto.
“The most significant thing about Polish fashion start-ups and the Polish fashion industry in general is that they are not thinking globally,” Kasia explained. “There are a few people out there that are thinking about bringing their products to different markets than Poland, whether the U.S. or Asia, which is also a very interesting market, but most of them are focusing on how to be the best e-commerce platform in Poland. Which is absurd, because you cannot be better than Allegro right now. Allegro is the biggest online fashion company in Poland, actually.”
Kasia explained that in order to succeed, Polish start-ups and brands have to think globally from day one. “So many fashion brands are dying in the first year. If someone is trying to grow a fashion brand, whether it’s a start-up or a clothing company, most people forget to be agile. There is no one like the Steve Blank of the fashion industry. One of the reasons I started my meet-ups was to help people think about technology and how to run this business. Not thinking in a global way and not thinking in an agile way - these are huge problems for Polish fashion start-ups and brands,” she concluded.
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