Need a quick fashion fix on your mobile? Head down to the App Store at the moment and you can see a recommended list of apps from Apple via their Editor’s Picks section.
The result is an interesting overview of the state of fashion apps at the moment. Apple have divided it up into four categories:
There’s a real mixture of apps in here. Quite a few are fashion social networks, where you can upload photos of your own style, and browse and be inspired by other people – for example Trendabl, Go Try It On, Pose, and Fashism. All have slightly different selling points. For Fashism and Go Try It On it’s getting real-time advice: you can upload an outfit and gather opinions from friends, while Trendabl have signed up several celebrities as an incentive. Snapette has a unique take on social shopping which is great for smaller retailers – you can search for fashion products nearby, with images uploaded by other users as well as brands.
The next crop of apps that Apple have picked could be called ‘wardrobe curation’. They’re modern day versions of that classic Clueless scene where Cher consults her computerised revolving closet to pick out an outfit for the day.
With Stylebook, you can take photos of every item of clothing you wear, and combine them in magazine-style layouts. Cloth lets you take photos of different outfit combinations, and even links up with weather forecasts to suggest what you should wear today. Netrobe connects your wardrobe socially so you can see what your friends are wearing.
The ‘Inspiration and Shopping’ category displays a smattering of retail apps from big brands like H&M, Topshop, and ASOS, as well as the usual social suspects like Pinterest and Svpply.
Interestingly there are quite a few big luxury brands included in the selection, and their apps really demonstrate some of the problems that luxury retailers have had in the app space. Take the Gucci app, for instance. It’s basically a portal to their online store (you can’t actually shop within the app, although products are laid out nicely), and has some fairly brutal reviews:
Luxury brands can learn from this – if you’re not planning to sell via your app, it needs to be entertaining or useful, otherwise it’s essentially a useless, expensive advert.
At first glance Louis Vuitton have solved this problem, with their ‘Ambler’ app which purports to be a ‘new way of capturing your travel memories and sharing them with your friends’. It has a slick interface and looks good, but on further investigation it proves to be a portal for selling Louis Vuitton ‘travel guides’ at an average of £10 each. It’s also surprisingly buggy and prone to crashing.
That’s not to say that all luxury fashion brand apps disappoint. The Christian Louboutin app has good reviews from users. You may not be able to shop on it, but there’s news, product videos, sketches from the designer, and nice images of the footwear, all of which dedicated fans seem to appreciate.
Apple’s most intriguing sub-category is probably ‘The Fashion Reporter’s Toolkit’, which puts together some useful tools for photo-taking, list-making, productivity, etc. There aren’t many apps which are specifically fashion focussed, but this could be an interesting niche in the market to develop.
Companies like Fashion GPS are already aiming to digitise the professional world of fashion – they have an app which lets journalists and buyers collect their runway show tickets in one place, and easily navigate between locations at fashion week. It would be great to see more fashion-specific tools like illustration apps that let you scan in different swatches of material, or mobile apps for designers that keep track of what materials they need to order each season, for instance.
The final category in the App Store selection is ‘Beauty and Make-up’. It’s a pretty good representation of the current state of beauty on mobile, as there’s only one branded app in sight (OPI nail polishes). Beauty brands in general have been slower to get mobile, despite their social credentials, and there are few retail apps in the marketplace at the moment. OPI have done something interesting with their offering, allowing users to see what different shades of polish look like on their nails, but there’s definitely room for more innovation here.