Donna North, co-founder of Dressipi

For this week’s Fashion Tech Insider interview we were lucky enough to talk to Donna North, co-founder of Dressipi.

If you work in fashion, you’ve probably already heard of this clever company, but basically it’s an free online fashion advice and recommendation service. Shoppers can create a ‘Fashion Fingerprint’ and get personalised advice on what to wear and where to buy it from. The more they use the service, the more it learns about their shopping habits and preferences, emailing them products they might like to buy.

Donna’s given us some great insights, so read on to find out about the birth of Dressipi, how they’ve successfully mixed fashion and technology, and more!

Donna North

What inspired you to start up Dressipi?
Sarah and I were both experiencing the problem that a majority of women face….a plethora of choice of clothes and brands but a lack of confidence in what really suited us and too little time (and know how) to make good purchase decisions. We had a wardrobe of clothes that we weren’t wearing and were shopping the same brands and styles that were in our comfort zone.

As technologists we could see that technology and techniques had progressed to a point where personalised style advice was a real possibility.

What have you found to be the biggest challenges in mixing fashion and technology?
From the outset, we understood that emotion is at the heart of fashion. It is central to how retailers and brands market their products – and it plays an integral role when a consumer is deciding what to wear or buy.

So our greatest challenge from the beginning was how to capture this human insightfulness. Part of that was overcome by pairing every developer with a stylist, something that is integral to how we work today.

Technology excels at high volume, analytical work – which is great for sorting and narrowing down choices – but none of that is relevant if you can’t capture and deliver on the context and emotion.

Do you think that styling and recommendation tools like Dressipi are vital for retailers who want to sell more clothing online?
Consumers now have more options than ever before, making purchase journeys more complex. So, it is vital that retailers invest in features and tools that help consumers find and discover the products they will love.

At Dressipi, we believe that personalisation based on style, shape and personal preferences will alter the online clothing landscape.  Ultimately if we can guide consumers to buying clothes online that both ‘fit and flatter’ them and gives them a warm fuzzy feeling about their purchase – it’s a win win for all involved.

What % of your website visitors come from mobile devices? Have you seen that number change over the last few years?
We are a pretty young business so mobile has always been a core platform for our visitors. We observe different behaviours on different platforms – depending whether a consumer is browsing or shopping.

As Dressipi evolves, mobile (or smart phones) will play a fundamental role in the Dressipi customer experience, enabling the consumer to take their Fashion Fingerprint and style adviser everywhere with them.

You launched your own Size Finder iPhone app – how has it been received by your users?
We launched the Size Finder app at the request of our members – obviously it is not core to what we do but it’s a handy app to help overcome the nightmare of being a different size in different brands. Interestingly a lot of men are using it as an easy way to have their partner’s sizes with them!

Which online marketing channels have you found most useful for Dressipi?
We have done little to no marketing to date and the majority of our growth has come through word of mouth. We don’t see this changing in the short term, while we remain firmly focussed on product development and working with our retail partners.

What’s next for Dressipi?
We are on the cusp of launching one more feature around outfit building – which for the first time offers the consumer a tool that mirrors how they shop i.e. buying new products in the context of their existing wardrobe and occasions.  We will then move entirely to enhancing the instore/multi-channel experience.  Once you are in a daily dialogue on a truly personal basis with your consumer – your ability to help and inspire them is colossal. And this is what excites us most.

Huge thanks to Donna North of Dressipi for answering our questions – check out the Dressipi website here, read their blog here, and follow them on Twitter @dressipi.