Chanel, Dior, Lagerfeld, Ralph Lauren, Armani, Versace, Oscar De La Renta, Jean Paul Gaultier, Pierre Cardin, and Louis Vuitton are just a few of the names of famous fashion designers you may recognize. While they achieved great success, it didn’t come easily or quickly. It can take decades to become established in the competitive field of fashion design. Overnight success stories are extremely rare. But one of these was Tommy Hilfiger.
Hilfiger never went to design school. After learning the trade, he founded Tommy Hilfiger Inc. with his prep-school sportswear line in the mid-eighties. Still mostly unknown, his brand was launched with an innovative billboard marketing campaign in times square that instantly brought customers into his store. In 2006 he sold his company for 1.6 billion.
A billboard campaign won’t get the modern designer too far. Today’s fashion success stories are more likely to happen on social media where brands must reach and influence their markets quickly to stay ahead. Rufus Parkinson CEO of Style Me, a virtual fitting room for e-commerce says, “Emerging brands can spot new trends and adopt them fairly quickly, and within only a few weeks increase their market share.”
Now as Co-Founder of another startup, Parkinson is introducing a new way for fashion brands to increase their footprint with the help of social media content creators – Me Token. Through his Style Me app, consumers and content creators alike get rewarded with Me Tokens for posting and engaging with fashion content, as well as selling their own styling advice. In this interview, he explains what Me Token is, how the Style Me app works and what the future holds for the retail fashion industry.
Q: What Are Style Me and Me Token?
A: In 2015 our founder Jonathan Leong created Style Me. His idea was to allow consumers to try on clothing when shopping online before they made a purchase. The challenge was to replicate and further improve the fitting room experience but in a digital space. I joined the company as CEO in early 2017 after they’d perfected their high-quality and scalable virtual fitting room.
Style Me is a white-labeled B2B2C solution that sits on the E-commerce websites of brands or retailers. It allows customers to virtually try on clothing, get the perfect fit suggestion and visualize whole outfits. The result is a higher level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, that ultimately translates into more sales and fewer returns for the retailer. Our solution is now live with a brand called Pam & Gela and we’ll have five or six more brands live by September 2018.
From the beginning, we evaluated how to incorporate our patented fitting technology into a consumer-facing product, too. That’s where Me Token comes in. It’s the idea of leveraging blockchain to create a shoppable social platform for fashion that will ultimately give consumers the ability to try on products.
Anyone can earn or spend Me Tokens through our Style Me app or the web version. This enables a whole new world of social commerce where users get rewarded for creating and engaging with shoppable content. Me Tokens can be used to buy clothes or be held as an investment, and will be listed on a cryptocurrency exchange shortly after we finish the main sale.”
Q: What Problems Will Me Token Solve?
A: There’s quite a contrast between the excitement you see on Instagram and the typical shopping experience of an E-commerce site. We saw this as a huge opportunity and we wondered how we could turn the discovery and purchase experience into an exciting journey for the consumer.
Our breakthrough moment came when we realized that not only could we achieve that, we could also help people monetize their content and creativity at the same time. If you go on Instagram, there are lots of people posting about fashion. While many have a loyal and engaged audience, not all of them are able to monetize their posts just because they don’t have a flock of millions.
People with up to 10,000 followers are what we call Micro-influencers. They receive little or no reward for the content they create. As opposed to the traditional social platforms, Style.me is a decentralized, self-governed model where the community is in complete ownership of their data, including monetization options. If Micro-influencers are driving strong engagement that also turns into sales, they should be rewarded. And they will be with Me Token.”
Q: How Does Me Token Work?
A: While our Style Me Virtual Fitting room serves as a solution for E-commerce sites, Me Tokens are only used through our Style Me app. If you’re going to use Me Tokens, you’ll be going through this app.
The Style Me app is a fashion discovery platform that enables and empowers fashion-minded people to create engaging content and monetize it. Brands play no role whatsoever in creating the content, so there won’t be any product shots like on an E-commerce website. You’ll only see images of people showcasing their favorite looks..
Content creators have the option to make their post shoppable by linking back to the product in the shot. If you were viewing an image you’d be able to say, “Okay, I want to buy this pair of pants or jacket.” When you click on it, the product details will appear and you’ll be able to make a purchase.
A new feature we’re working on will let you drag the clothing onto a “try on” button to see what they would look like on you, based on your body type and measurements. We’ll be adding our virtual fitting room and video capabilities by Q2 2019.”
Q: What Are the Benefits for Shoppers, Influencers, and Brands?
ON BENEFITS FOR SHOPPERS
If you’ve ever tried shopping online, it’s not hard to understand how shoppers will benefit. Online shopping can be a frustrating experience. When you visit a retailer’s website and scroll through the pages you have no idea how clothes will fit and what they would look like on your body. Furthermore, there is no visual tool to mix and match with other items to create an inspiring outfit. You often must visit several other websites to find all the items you want.
Visiting stores is even more work. Imagine you’re in New York in the winter and you want to go and try on clothes. How many outfits are you going to try on? It’s very tiring. You might try a few pieces, but you’re not going to try on 30 or 40. That’s exactly what you can do with Style Me, and without ever leaving home.
Me Tokens make the process even easier by involving styling advisors. Shoppers can follow their favorite social media stylists and influencers who inspire them by what they wear and shortcut the effort of scouting through several websites to find specific pieces of clothing. Our virtual fitting room will also let you mix and match clothing on your own figure. It’s quicker, more personalized and a far more enjoyable shopping experience. Our virtual fitting room lets you input four simple measurements for the highest fit accuracy.
ON BENEFITS FOR CONTENT CREATORS
In most cases, content creators don’t get paid when a sale is made. But they do with Me Token. The Style Me app lets you earn throughout the buyer’s journey, so not only are you rewarded with Me Tokens when likes and comments are generated from your content, but also when someone buys an item after clicking on your image.
We make life easier for the content creators who make a business out of posting on social media by giving them access to the Style Me backend. Here they can upload images or videos and tag the clothing to sites where it’s for sale. This way, Micro Influencers now have a huge opportunity to start earning far more than they ever could from just social media apps.
What’s more, users can get paid for providing their brand preferences. Then in addition to their regular Style Me app feed there’ll see a separate feed with content only from brands they have approved. Their chosen brands will target them with advertising and they’ll get paid for sharing their data – it’s a win-win. This advertising could come directly from the brand, such as an ad from Nike, or it could be a collaboration with an influencer promoting Nike.
Me Token is a game changer for content creators. Instead of giving up their content to traditional social media sites, the Style Me app puts them in control and rewards them all for their efforts.
ON BENEFITS FOR BRANDS
There are two parts to it for brands. They can directly connect with content creators who can help to increase their brand presence with new audiences. The other exciting part is that the brands can also reach the community directly, as long as they opt-in to receive brand messages. Imagine in the future when we have tens of millions of users and their content.
In addition to our virtual fitting room within the app, there are other features we’ll be adding that can benefit brands too, such as styling advice. For example, if you’re a regular shopper you may want some inspiration for your upcoming event, like a wedding, a first date or a job interview.
If you follow an influencer promoting a certain brand, you can contact them for styling advice and get a quote in tokens. Such styling session could happen over video or may just be some simple pictures with tips. P2P services like these are something we’ll be developing within the app.
The Style Me app will indeed be much more, as well. We’ll continue exploring and developing new ways for shoppers, content creators and brands to get a better shopping and styling experience with the Style Me app and Me Tokens.
Q: What Trends Do You See?
A: Some brands and retailers are working hard at digital transformation while others aren’t. Still, from the conversations, we’ve had with brands in the US we’ve learned that E-commerce can be an expensive business model. Fashion Ecommerce is suffering from low conversion rates which are typically around 1%. Additionally, businesses are getting hit with product high return rates.
Since brick and mortar sales are in decline, E-commerce sales are the main hope for future growth. Major department store players like Nordstrom have a digital team to continually test and improve their performance, but many others are getting left behind. To be honest, I think it’s a bit of a bloodbath for retail right now.
If you’re a smaller retailer, it’s difficult. In addition to the brand building and other CRM work, you must build the website, drive traffic, and fight off the competition. At the end of the day, you’re lucky if 1 out of 100 visitors makes a purchase. And then there are your website maintenance costs.
The Style Me app can help larger brands, but it can have a significant impact on the sales of small to mid-sized companies. They’ll instantly reduce overhead and get access to an extensive community of content creators who can spread the word and help them bring in sales.”
Q: How are You and Your Team Uniquely Qualified?
A: The Me Token team is a unique mix of people from fashion, business, and crypto. We’ve had a huge head start through our network of brands, industry knowledge, operational experience, and technical know-how.
Style Me founder and Me Token Co-Founder Jonathan Leong, is a highly successful serial entrepreneur. At the age of 23, he built his first platform that’s now a trading platform and trading over $1 billion a month. From there, he started businesses across fintech, education tech, fashion, crypto mining, trading, and gaming. He’s had several successful businesses over the past 10 years. An engineer by background, he’s a visionary when it comes to technology.
Myself, I have more of a blue-chip background. I’ve spent my career working for companies like Mars, and for the last 10 plus years, LVMH (Moet Hennessy, Louis Vuitton). Most of my work was in the luxury segment focused on building brands and leading large teams in Asia.
Together we’ve created a well-balanced team. Sebastian our Product Director is from Rocket Internet, the largest online fashion marketplace. Head of Growth and Community is Edward. He’s from a fashion social commerce company called Like To Know It and has great experience in fashion brand marketing, managing and developing influencer networks. We’re strong CTO and tech wise too. This includes the members who’ve built up our patented tech over the last three years for Style Me.
We’ve boosted our team by taking on a few advisors, too. Two of these were involved in the highly successful Bee Token project, an Airbnb for blockchain launched Q1 2018. Min Kim was heading up their marketing and Ali was doing their tech developments. Ali is previously from Amazon and Google, so lots of experience there.
Then we have George from a firm called Rakuten, a huge Japanese E-commerce play. He was running the US business and involved in fashion on the E-commerce side. Lastly, we have an advisor called Krishna, a managing partner at the global law firm Duane Morris. Our team is split between developers here in Taiwan and our commercial footprint in New York.
Q: How is Me Token Progressing?
A: As I mentioned, Style Me is now active online and will continue to be our white-labeled B2B2C product. The Style Me app that’s fueled by Me Tokens will be soft-launched in August to a closed community for fine-tuning. We’ll roll it out with full internet access in Q4 2018. The Me Token Presale kicks off on Monday, July 23, 2018. You’ll be able to go to MeToken.net to buy tokens at up to 30% off.
We’ve already raised $1.8 million in the last few weeks from cornerstone investors. One of these was a fund called On Capital who contributed the most. We’re now interested in engaging other funds and launching the Presale. The ICO will finish in October and we’ll distribute the tokens straight after the sale. We’ll be listed on the exchange within four weeks of finishing, too.
I think Me Token is a winner because it’s based on our Style Me solution, and that’s already a proven success. It’s the visualization aspect of the Style Me virtual fitting room that makes it work, too. This is unlike other players with fitting solutions that rely on data.
When we originally talked to retailers we found that people return clothing for two reasons – either it doesn’t fit, or they just don’t like how it looks on them. You can’t solve the second problem by just recommending someone a size. They must see it for themselves, and this is what makes the Style Me app work so well.
Me Tokens will help social media content creators get better rewards. And who knows, with enough of a following some may develop their own brands. They’ll make good money from the margins if their brand is driving engagement. Some content creators now even have an agency behind them who will source a brand and a range of clothing for them. There seems to be no doubt there’ll be a greater role for social media influencers in the future of fashion social commerce.”
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