It may sound like a stretch to say that French people are the reference for fashion. But as we say, “il n’y a pas de fumée sans feu” (there’s no smoke without fire).
In addition to having a very prolific fashion sense, the French are also very creative when it comes to the shopping experience. The landscape of French fashion startups is flourishing those days: 6 of the 10 companies presented in this article closed a round last spring/summer season and the results of their investments are released now. Let’s open the catwalk.
1. Flink, the Flipboard of fashion blogs.
The last born of “fashion inspiration” apps Flink defines itself as the “Flipboard of fashion blogs”. Thomas France and his co-founders developed the idea while working on another e-commerce app, Shopelia: user-feedback got them the idea on focusing on the fashion vertical. Its mobile-first approach and great UX seduced fashion lovers and got them to 50,000 downloads in just a few days. Their next step is to release a new, more social version in two months.
2. Carnet de Mode, crowdfunding meets social shopping.
Carnet de Mode brings together fashion-lovers and young creative talents: the former can participate in the funding of a collection, the latter are able to develop it and get access to their first customers. A real mix between crowdfunding and social shopping which seems to be a good call for fashion – a highly emotional sector that federates its passionnates. Elaia Partners agreed and invested in the startup in May 2013 ($1 million – the first e-commerce platform in Elaia’s portfolio) arguing Carnet de Mode was truly “revolutionizing the online shopping experience”.
3. InstantLuxe, buying luxury online has never been safer.
The fashion luxury marketplace places its expertise in luxury leather goods, watches and accessories. They play the intermediary and ensure a safe transaction between buyers and sellers with no risk of counterfeits. They achieved a €2 millions round of investment in June 2013 with Iris Capital and ISAI (who already invested €650 000 in 2010) which enables them to focus on the German market and mobile commerce.
4. Monshowroom, the first marketplace for on-going collections.
When Séverine Grégoire and Chloé Ramade created Monshowroom.com in 2006, the platform was basically the only way to access current collections online, an opportunity for people living outside of big cities, or simply online-fashion lovers. Today, the platform has become a reference with 270 brands available. Alven Capital and Crédit Agricole Private Equity funds invested in the company in 2009 and Casino bought their share in 2012, in order to create synergies with the e-commerce platform “CDiscount”, as sources say (FR).
5. Dymant, invite-only eCommerce, the true eLuxury experience.
Dymant changed the e-commerce industry by focusing on the story-telling and esthetical atmosphere experience more than on the products. Quality VS SEO, to put it shortly. The marketplace offers invite-only customers the opportunity to access high-end and exclusive French “artisanat” (craftsmanship). Partech Ventures and IDInvest invested $1 million last year in order to enable the startup to address other geographical markets.
6. Vestiaire Collective, a second-hand luxury marketplace.
Co-founded by Sébastien Fabre and Sophie Hersan, Vestiaire Collective is a marketplace for second-hand luxury fashion products. Created in Paris in 2009, (because, as Sebastien Fabre told us: “In order to launch a fashion marketplace, we had to be in Paris”), they now are developing abroad: London in 2012, Germany and the U.S in 2014. This internationalization follows their series C round with Condé Nast ($15 millions), an interesting choice of partner, motivated by the expertise of the group in online community-based businesses and the U.S market.
Vestiaire Collective has innovated in the marketplace sector by adding a friction in the process – which could be seen as a bad example: in order to ensure a faithful community of customers, Vestiaire Collective has an editorial committee that selects which articles can be sold online, that specialists then check before they arrive in the customer’s hands. A great service that ensures happiness on both sides of the sale. They just opened a “Vintage” and “Lifestyle” section: take a look at it (even you male readers, you represent 15% of Vestiaire Collective’s clientele!)
7. VideDressing, social shopping for previously owned outfits.
If your wallet is slightly smaller than Chanel and Dior-material, then VideDressing might be the right fit for you. The principle is the same as other social shopping platform: Meryl Job and Renaud Guillerm, co-founders, managed to build a strong a faithful community first, and then monetized it by facilitating trades inside this community. They now claim a 5-times growth factor between 2011 and 2012 and realized two rounds in 2013 in order to penetrate the German market – the last one with Global Founders Capital for $5 Million.
8. Selectionnist, shopping through fashion magazines.
If you have ever been frustrated by not remembering the reference of an outfit you’ve seen in an old edition of Elle Magazine while waiting at the doctor’s, then you’ll love Selectionnist.
Selectionnist, founded by female serial-entrepreneurs Tatiana Jama and Lara Rouyres (Living Social, Dealissime) enables its visitors to search for things spotted by magazine or by brand. The beautifully-built website might also inspire some other shopping wishlists. The website just launched yesterday, time to try it out!
9. Wheretoget.it, finds the fashion items you lost of sight.
Extreme situation, you have spotted an outfit somewhere, anywhere, and you must have it. But of course, you don’t have the reference. Hopefully, Wheretoget.it is here to help.
The platform (which is French, unlike the URL extension « .it » might indicate) gathers a community of passionate fashion-lovers who are able to spot where you can find your desperately lost article, providing that you have a picture. If not, there is a great chance they will find something similar, or even better. The force of the “multitude” applied to fashion. Rumor is that Romain Moyne, founder, is currently working on a Series A round of investment[fr].
10. Rad, flash sales dedicated to the Cool.
Rad’s value proposition is quite similar to other fashion discovery platforms: the cooler the pictures, the more you want to buy. How did Rad work out so well then? Rad’s particularity holds in its editorial line: it’s just cool, then you can only get it for a small amount of time.
They closed a €2.5 Million Series A round of funding in June 2013, declaring: “We are raising to accelerate our growth — hire key people, build a logistics platform, speed up acquisition through marketing, develop our production capacities”.