Fast fashion might be about to kick into hyperspeed.
Jessie Zeng, a 20-something former investment banker with degrees from Wellesley and MIT, is launching an on-demand apparel company that aims to disrupt current online and brick-and-mortar retail models by putting up-to-the-moment hot fashion pieces into the hands of women in as little as two weeks – all at affordable prices.
Jessie Zeng, founder of Choosy.
Zeng’s Choosy is predicated on speed and the power of now. As Yahoo Finance senior writer Melody Hahm explains, each week Choosy’s team of “style scouts” will scour the market for the current top 10 fashion trends. Social media pluming – especially on Instagram -- and even algorithms programmed for finding trending fashions in real-time figure to help power the research, reports indicate. Once styles are identified, consumers can pre-order the items. Choosy then designs and manufactures its own versions inspired by the style, delivering the ordered item to individual consumers in as few as 14 days. To be available in sizes 0-20, all pieces cost less than $100 and come with free shipping.
Models sporting Choosy looks.
While the specter of copyright infringement rears under Choosy’s model, Hahm reports that most items are not unique in the marketplace and that the start-up is not copying anything from independent designers.
Whether legal entanglements will ensue remains to be seen, but the initial reaction to Choosy has been positive. The company announced this week that it has secured a $5.4 million round of seed funding. Investors include New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Forerunner Ventures, Innovation Global Factor and XFactor Ventures. Perhaps even more relevantly in the long run, Zeng and her team beta-tested their business model this winter. After spotting that Gigi Hadid’s pearl-studded ripped jeans were catching social fire on Instagram, Choosy offered the trend for sale, along with three other items. Choosy reportedly raked in 1,000 pre-orders over the course of four hours. Choosy’s official launch is scheduled for July 24.
Gigi Hadid’s jeans inspired a fashion offering from Choosy.
Hailing from China originally, Zeng comes from a textile manufacturing family. She attended high school and university in the U.S., and worked as an investment banker for Citigroup for a couple years. She then went back to China to work in the family business, among other pursuits Hahm reports. It was during her time in China that she noticed that fashion bloggers were launching their own direct-to-consumer lines, a production model facilitated by the bloggers’ proximity to apparel manufacturing centers in China. Inspired, Zeng wanted to try something similar in the U.S. Choosy was born.
It will be interesting to see how the intelligent young fashionista’s business fairs. Will it prove revolutionary and disruptive? Will it flare and fade, or fail to catch on, the way some other hyped start-ups have? We’re not smart enough to say. But one thing is for sure, the venture represents another example of innovators trying to rapidly accelerate the apparel supply chain. It also speaks to the growing focus for on-demand production and mass personalization. As such innovations catch on and gain wider adoption, they’re bound to influence buyer expectations in the promotional products industry. Suppliers and distributors need to be ready to adapt and meet the demand.