These 8 UK fashion tech startups will help you dress better

Scott Carey
Scott Carey

Scott Carey

Scott graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in English Literature and a diploma in Magazine Journalism. He has a keen interest in disruptive tech, sport and the media.

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As more and more shoppers purchase their clothes online the fashion industry is having to adopt technology at a faster rate than ever.

These eight startups are bringing big data analytics, facial recognition and 3D technologies together with retailers to help you shop and dress better.

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© Lyst

Lyst

Lyst is an e-commerce platform that brings together more than 11,000 fashion brands and retailers, allowing shoppers to use a single shopping basket, instead of clicking out to each individual retailer’s websites.

So how does it differ to an e-commerce site like ASOS? PR manager Katy Lubin told Techworld

“Scale and size, we have more stuff than anyone else with over three million products from 11,000+ brands and retailers. Insight, we have a data science and analytics team that are looking at 4.5 million changing data points every hour, such as new products dropping, new stock, changes in pricing etcetera, which give us the ability to build up a picture of how the world is shopping in real time. Lastly authority, we work with all of the best partners around the world, such as Saks in the USA and Selfridges here in London.”

Lyst is one of the better established names on this list (no pun intended), featuring in TechcityUK’s Future 50 and it has already pulled in more than £42 million in funding from the likes of Groupe Arnault, Accel Partners and Balderton Capital.

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© Thread

Thread

Kieran O’Neill founded Thread in 2012 with the aim of helping men dress better through combining personal online stylists with big data insights.

You start out by telling the platform some of your fashion preferences (do you wear skinny jeans or bootcut) and how much you tend to spend on clothes, what size you wear and some of your favourite brands and some outfits you like. You are then assigned a personal stylist (shout out to my stylist Sophie Gaten) who reviews the preferences and emails you a list of suggested items.

Thread currently has eight stylists working in house for its 250,000 active users, with one stylist in particular having 45,000 clients. If this seems like an untenable workload that is where the technology comes in. Founder and CEO Kieran O’Neill told Techworld: “It’s a combination of the stylist and the algorithm.”

Once the stylist has sent over the first set of recommendations the Thread algorithm starts to work, learning which items you like and dismiss before sending out weekly recommendations. This frees up stylist’s time to concentrate on the initial taste profiles and the human actions of messaging, so you can even ask your stylist what she would recommend you wear to a wedding this summer.

Thread is a free service which makes its money by working directly with big fashion brands, clustering orders at wholesale rates before selling and shipping items itself.

Thread has raised more than £7 million from seed and series A funding, with Balderton Capital the lead investor.

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© Vinaya

Vinaya

Wearable technology is still in it’s infancy, and although smartwatches and fitness trackers are growing in popularity, they are still a way off in terms of aesthetics and subtlety.

London-based startup Vinaya is a wearable technology company that recently launched its Altruis range (from £220-275) of women’s jewellery that connects with your devices to push custom notifications via subtle vibrations to a ring, necklace or bracelet.

Vinaya has an ambitious design lab which is hoping to produce wearables that help re-balance our growing addiction to technology by adjusting to users moods and habits and dialling down notifications where appropriate.

Founder Kate Unsworth told TechCrunch that the plan is to apply data-analysis to: “Brain activity and psychology to try to understand how people are feeling — and as a result of that the types of products that we can build to help them feel better.”

Eileen Burbidge of Passion Capital led on Vinaya’s seed funding round of $3m (£2.1m) in November 2015.

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© British Fashion Council

Farfetch

Farfetch is a platform that brings together more than 300 high-end, independent fashion boutiques from across the world to a single shopping basket. Meaning you can shop for niche pieces from Italian boutiques from your trendy flat in Shoreditch.

The only unicorn on this list (valued at more than $1 billion), Farfetch completed a huge funding round in March 2015, raising more than $194m (£137m) from investors that includes fashion publishing giant Conde Nast International. Even e-commerce giant ASOS never reached a $1b valuation pre-IPO.

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© Snap Fashion

Snap Fashion

Have you ever wanted to ask someone on the tube where they got their shoes from? No, just us then? Regardless, if you see an item you want to own but don’t want to ask the person, simply snap a sneaky picture on your smartphone and use Snap Fashion to identify similar items from hundreds of UK retailers. You can then make the purchase through Snap Fashion, either in your browser or using the mobile app.

Snap Fashion founder Jenny Griffiths received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list last year before she even turned 30. Griffiths has already won the Decoded Fashion startup pitch, and first place at Cisco’s BIG awards in 2012.

Snap Fashion has raised an undisclosed amount during seed and series A funding rounds from investors Venrex Investment Management and Time Inc, respectively.

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© iStock

Pocket High Street

Pocket High Street was born to support the little guy, the small retailers that struggle to compete with big e-commerce sites. The idea was to provide a quality online platform for shoppers to discover small retailers.

The London-based startup provides an open platform which connects to major inventory systems, so that small shops can reach a larger audience and offer a click and collect delivery option.

Pocket High Street has raised an undisclosed amount during a seed funding round so far.

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© Holition

Holition

A fashion startup that is truly embracing cutting edge technology is Holition, which looks to help brands and retailers embrace 3D technology and augmented reality.

Their latest product is where it gets really interesting though. Face allows cosmetics brands to show how their products look on shoppers without applying any product. Using 3D technology a smartphone or tablet can act as a virtual mirror. The possibilities for this sort of technology in the fashion and retail spaces are pretty intriguing.

Holition already boasts Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer, Lacoste and even fellow startup Lyst as clients.

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© iStock

Fits.me

As shoppers continue to flock online, fashion brands are looking for ways to confront the problem of virtual fittings.

Fits.me is basically a virtual reality changing room. It works by building a 3D model of shoppers so that they can try clothes on virtually. Fits.me claims to be able to model to a level of accuracy that accounts for clothes “measurements, design intentions, grading rules and stretch factors”. This also opens up opportunities for retailers to send recommendations not just dependant on taste but also fit.

Fits.me has raised £9.2m in funding so far and was acquired by Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten in July, but will continue to operate out of London. Their services are currently only available on a bespoke basis. Shirt-makers TM Lewin, Hawes & Curtis and Thomas Pink are amongst the first clients of Fits.me.

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