The Huffington Post is already surmising that the niche world of online fashion technology is experiencing a bubble, and it’s inevitably going to burst. In reaction to that, you could gird your loins, or get ready to roll with the punches. A number of new-ish fashion technologies are already doing the latter. These businesses are built on new models, which would imply they’re too young to need to change — but perhaps it’s the start-up mentality that’s keeping them so flexible early on in the game. At any rate, let’s take a look at three emerging online fashion business models that are already adjusting their games:
1. The subscription model: Well, the thing about this particular e-commerce niche is that by adapting, it’s turning into an entirely new species. Online product-of-the-month clubs just began to catch on last year, but one of them is already abandoning the model entirely. ShoeDazzle, which is partly helmed by Kim Kardashian, will continue to assess site visitors’ taste via online quizzes, and recommend a monthly batch of products. However, their customers can now buy what they want whenever they want (you know, like regular online retail) without being held to the once-per-month standard $39.95 purchase.
2. The online style advice site: Sites and mobile apps that provide communities for sharing styles and asking “how does this look on me?” have proliferated over the past few years — Pose, Fashism, and Go Try It On are the big three in this particular genre. To compete with each other, copycat up-and-comers, and to generally stay relevant, expanding into e-commerce seems like a logical next step. Fashism was the first on the bandwagon, with a recently launched online accessories store curated around items related to their best-received, most-commented user photos and style queries.
3. The flash sale: There’s no doubt about it — after taking the internet by storm starting in 2008, online flash sales are on the wane. Gilt Groupe, one of the pioneers of the industry, recently laid off a sizable number of employees, as did Rue La La and Lot18 (which specializes in wine, not clothing). Meanwhile, DailyCandy shuttered Swirl, its online sample sale arm. Who’s next? There probably won’t be a rash of online sample sale closings, but with less stock at higher prices, we do expect to see online flash sales either change their business models or shrink considerably.