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The Future Of Fashion: How Fashion Tech Companies Can Build Community(Forbes)

The article first appeared on the Forbes.

My passion for fashion has driven me to dedicate my life to helping women of all ages and sizes have access to fashion that not only fits but makes them feel confident. With over 15 years in the fashion industry, I have experienced all kinds of shopping trends. And let’s face it, people shop differently today than ever before.

Many modern-day transactions start with a user downloading an app and providing information such as their measurements and preferences. Then, the app connects to their social media to gather more data on what they like. With a few swipes of their finger, they have a new outfit or subscription box that will show up on their doorstep in five to seven days.

In the process of building our fashion shopping app using artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies, I have learned that there is more than just tech needed to create a full solution. In addition to the tech, you must build a community. I believe this is the element that many fashion tech companies are forgetting.

And therein lies the problem. Fashion tech companies that focus only on tech, and not building community for their customers, are fighting an uphill battle. To succeed in today’s fashion industry, here are four ways to build community into the foundation of your tech.

1. Provide avenues for validation.

It is no longer a matter of fitting into your clothes. It is a matter of how you feel when you get the outfit. Buying fashion items is not like buying gas for your car. Most transactions will result in you buying something that other people will see. When clothes don’t fit, it’s easy to get emotional. You may be sad, or it might send you into a spiral of negative self-talk.

As a fashion tech company, you have to look past the transaction. Help your customers by providing a sense of community to validate their purchases. It could be as simple as showcasing positive posts on your social media, creating a private Facebook group for customers or creating a hashtag for them to use when they share their new outfits online.

At Xehar, we build community through our hashtag #AConfidentYou. Our customers know that when they share what they buy with this hashtag, we will be there to let them know how it looks. In doing so, we participate in the validation of their purchases.

2. Remember that AI only tells you so much.

When it comes to fashion subscription-box business models, AI is a big partof how companies like Stitch Fix determine what you will get. Algorithms choose items based on the data available. But who says what you like online gives companies the whole picture of what you like to wear? That’s why it’s important to go beyond AI and build community — both on- and offline — to have a better understanding of customer preferences.

Use social listening tools and hashtag searches to find customers who are sharing outfits online. Then, comment, like, share and follow those who are looking for feedback on outfits. In addition, don’t discredit offline events and meet-ups to connect with current (and potential) customers in real life. I have found great success in creating live events for our Xehar community, including my most recent meet-up in Israel.

Read the full article on the Forbes.

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