FASHION TO GO

This app for fashion brands is like Instagram with a “buy” button

August 14, 2014
Obsession
Fashion
August 14, 2014

Remember when people window-shopped for fun? The founders of the new mobile shopping app Spring, launching today, want to recreate that feeling on your smartphone: an enticing, browsable place where each brand controls its own “window,” and inspired users can easily make purchases. Imagine Instagram with a “buy” button, and without the crippling sense of envy and inadequacy.

“It’s an experience, not a utility,” co-founder and CEO Alan Tisch told Quartz.

Although there’s big money in mobile commerce, there hasn’t yet been a mobile app that has made a significant impact when it comes to fashion—but a few things may make Spring different.

Big names are on board

Founders Ara Katz, Octavian Costache, and brothers David and Alan Tisch garnered some attention when they raised $7.5 million for their startup in July, with Groupe Arnault, the firm controlled by LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, leading the investment. Fashion industry insiders including Theory co-founder Andrew Rosen, Proenza Schouler CEO Shirley Cook, and Steven Alan have backed Spring as well. The startup also hired heavily from within the fashion community.

Just as importantly, a respectable list of nearly 100 fashion brands will have a presence on Spring out of the gate. Think American labels already popular with young, stylish, social-media savvy shoppers, like Public School, Everlane, Equipment, Surface to Air, and Suno.

It’s made for browsing

Many if not all of the brands on Spring already have a presence on Instagram. David Tisch says Spring encourages brands to share the sorts of styled “lifestyle” images popular on social media (see above), filled with available products. Each brand will control its own feed, which users can elect to follow, creating a personalized stream of products they might want to buy, or at least browse.

David pictures users scrolling through Spring while sitting in the back of a cab, rather than hunting down a specific item. “We’re not a product search engine,” he said.

It’s about shopping, not social

Although the Tisch brothers emphasize the app’s entertainment aspect, Spring is designed to make shopping seamless. Users enter their information once, and then can “swipe to buy” forevermore.

For the moment, only individual brands (as opposed to multi-label stores, boutiques, or plain old people) have access to the platform. Hand-picked celebrities, bloggers, and editors will be able to create temporary pages too. That suggests a model whereby those “tastemakers” could amass followers and post their picks for a commission, but, according to David, it’s not in the cards at the moment.

“It’s a shopping app,” he said. “It’s not a social shopping app.”

Tap image to zoom
Spring Screenshot Brand Account, mobile shopping startup
Here’s what a brand might see when they manage their Spring account.(Spring)

It’s potentially great for brands

For brands without their own online stores or e-commerce sites—the formidable Marchesa and Prabal Gurung among them—Spring will represent a foray into direct sales, potentially creating a valuable connection with customers. (Everlane and Warby Parker, both of which built their brands on eschewing middlemen, have both signed on.)

Companies will handle their own customer service and shipping, but Spring can step in if needed for support. Like Gilt Groupe, Spring could also provide brands with an easy channel for selling excess inventory.

But users still have to open it

David emphasized Spring’s potential for the “impulse buy,” but users will still have to download the app and get used to using it; most people don’t give a new app more than a few tries.

I’m not much for aimless shopping, but once in a while, I still enjoy browsing the windows and racks downtown. Sometimes I even buy something. I can’t imagine seeking out the same experience on my phone, but maybe I just haven’t had the right app.

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