The startup ecosystem is bursting at the seams with photosharing apps related to fashion. There’s Go Try It On, Pose, Cloth, Clothia, StyleTag, Stylebook, StyleShare, Trendabl, and FashionFreax for starters.
They each offer a twist on the age-old question of “does this look good on me?” through photosharing, social plug-ins, tagging, and in some cases, the ability to shop. They have another thing in common: They’re typically pink.
These apps, along with desktop-centric stuff-lust apps like Pinterest, Svpply and Polyvore, are used primarily by women. One might assume that’s because bonding over fashion comes more naturally to the ladies. Guys just don’t behave that way in real life or on the Web.
One would be assuming wrong. The adoption of Swaag, a new streetwear app launched this summer, shows that a category of guys (primarily ones obsessed with sneakers) are eager to discuss their clothes. The app has around 50,000 users, 60 percent of which are guys, to prove it.
The streetwear market is incredibly sticky for guys, says co-founder and CEO Peter Chun. “These are the kids that, during the toughest economic times, were waiting in line to buy a pair of $350 sneakers.”
Swaag was created by Chun, formerly of Clickable and Linkshare; Mark Bufalini, formerly of DailyCandy, LearnVest, and digital agency 360i; and Alex Burgel, an early DailyCandy engineer. They built it as a way to share (read: brag) photos of their extensive sneaker collections. Given their backgrounds in marketing, they speak the lingo: Swaag bills itself as a “user-generated consumer product advocacy platform.” In plain English, I think that means getting fans to discuss brands. Wherever that happens, there is money to be made, the thinking goes. (Of course, as we’ve discussed, it takes more than building a pretty app to get there.)
In the way that Instagram’s hearts and Facebook’s Likes satisfy our need for positive 24/7 reinforcement, Swaag users can give each other approval and commentary. Brands are tagged and browsable as a baseline for future search, branding, and even shopping functionality. Sartorial badges are awarded. (Gamification lives!)
The app offers a (nearly) confusing array of features, but it’s really one that matters most: the battle function. Chun says this is the stickiest part of the app, and it’s obvious why. It’s basically an interactive version of Us Weekly’s “Who Wore It Best?” feature. Only mobile, and on speed. Two pictures of the same thing, and users choose the one they like better. I admit it’s kinda fun to play Joan Rivers Fashion Police, declaring “LOVED IT, HATED IT, LOVED IT, HATED IT,” through an endless scroll of outfit battles.
The founders have bootstrapped the company and pulled very few marketing levers thus far. A major update in November will include streamlined functionality with a wider push for user adoption. The app is already set up to incorporate brands — users are tagging the items themselves. Swaag may capitalize on the data it gleans from what’s trending around the world, as well, Chen says.
Photosharing apps seem to be a dime a dozen these days, and since the Facebook backlash, they’ve had a tougher time raising capital and getting us excited. See the rapid rise and fall of “Instagram for Video” as proof. Swaag has a head start against the hype machine in that its streetwear-obsessed users are already addicted, and when it comes to clothes, dudes are not an easy-to-reach crew.