Brands

How Modcloth Tries to Be a Fashion Friend and (Amazingly) Succeeds

During Fashion Week, amateur fashionistas are bombarded with bizarre new looks, like the giant golden cherries glued to Anna Dello Russo’s head. It epitomizes a common fashion strategy: Project an elite and inaccessible aura in hopes of attracting aspirational consumers.

Modcloth, a women’s fashion e-tailer that specializes in vintage and indie looks, is taking a different approach. The site tries to be what founder Susan Koger calls “a fashion friend.”

We think that the next wave of fashion companies that will really win will be companies that really get their customer and get their customers involved.”

But what does it mean for a retailer to be a fashion friend?

“[B]eing a good friend means having relevant content and useful content on each platform,” Koger told Fashionista. “We have huge engagement numbers: On Pinterest we have 2.75 million followers; we’re huge on Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. We think that the next wave of fashion companies that will really win will be companies that really get their customer and get their customers involved.”

Modcloth engages their customers in unique ways. One on-site app, “Be the Buyer,” lets Modcloth enthusiasts review garment samples, vote on designs, and provide feedback that helps the site decide what to sell. The site’s Style Gallery allows shoppers to submit photos of themselves in their favorite Modcloth outfits, and the best submissions are featured on the site’s blog, in Style Gallery Star Sighting. Since Style Gallery launched in November 2012, users have shared over 6,000 photos, and they’ve been ‘loved’ (Modcloth’s version of ‘like’) over 350,000 times.

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“We saw our users contributing to our on-site platform so regularly, and with such thoughtfulness, developing this feature came very naturally,” explained Community Specialist Marketing Manager Mary Packett.

This kind of engagement has helped Modcloth attract a lot of followers on social media: 2.75 million on Pinterest, 928,000 on Facebook, and hundreds of thousands on Twitter and Instagram. They get friendly with customers there, too. Popular features like #modboxkitty invite followers to tag pictures of their cats playing in Modcloth boxes. (The lesson here, as always, is that the Internet loves cats.)

The brand’s ‘fashion friend’ approach is even evident in their product descriptions. Every item includes a story section that allows customers to imagine themselves wearing the piece. While most retailers might describe a blue, polyester, long-sleeved T in those exact words, Modcloth provides a narrative:

“Whoever said jeans and a tee couldn’t look completely cute has clearly never encountered a gal wearing this royal blue T-shirt! So here’s your chance – show ‘em that the oversized tunic fit and cuffed short sleeves of this solid top are ideal for a stylish Saturday when paired with floral skinnies, a chevron scarf, and suede boots. Downtown shopping or coffee at your fav café have never seen such a chic version of casual!”

Since Style Gallery launched in November 2012, users have shared over 6,000 photos, and they’ve been ‘loved’ (Modcloth’s version of ‘like’) over 350,000 times.

“The positive, pop culture-savvy, and approachable way we relate to our customer is the heart of every product story we write,” said Molly Kirwin, Fashion Writing Manager at Modcloth. “We put time, thought, and even love into crafting our descriptions because we know how much time, thought, and love our customers are putting into crafting their outfits.”

The ‘fashion friend’ strategy is paying off. Modcloth announced in August that they’ve seen 40% year over year growth and over $100 million in annual revenue. With numbers like that, it’s easy to find yourself in a friendly mood.

Image by Shutterstock
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