It’s becoming clearer than ever that e-commerce, fashion, and technology, are growing at an exponential rate. In fact, in 2016 alone, total revenues for just the e-commerce category came to about $72 billion, and experts predict that number will rise to at least $116 billion by 2021. Both start-up and classic fashion names have attempted through various means to grab attract the tech-savvy consumer in today’s market. Some companies have tried viral social media marketing and exclusive member clubs with some degree of success here and there.
A particular company, though, has been wildly successful. It’s done all of this despite most people being unaware of either its existence or its role in forging a new path for both the marketing and technology industries. Adam Goldberg and Don Ressler’s Techstyle Fashion Group has practically become a giant in terms of online retail sales, thanks to the ingenuity of its two co-CEOs.
Crafting a Trend and Moving Outside the System
Everything started in 2010 when a small company called JustFab launched what was then the first membership program for those interested in fashionable footwear. If you were a VIP member thanks to a monthly subscription, you’d receive discounts of over thirty percent off of retail besides priority access to promotional deals and special items. Rewards points and free shipping incentives were part of the deal. This was a system that worked well for JustFab. Two years after its inception, the program gained 6 million members. First quarter sales for that year were around 2.5 million in total.
Over the next four years, the company acquired both ShoeDazzle and FabKids. They expanded into multiple international markets including Germany and the whole of the U.K. JustFab also launched Fabletics during this time, all with the help of endorsements from actress Kate Hudson. A short time later in 2016, they re-imagined themselves as TechStyle to present a better reflection of their overall goals in fashion and retail. The new branding suggested to consumers that TechStyle would integrate science and membership commerce into marketing and fashion, thus helping both grow stronger.
Going From Data to Designer Destinations
Adam Goldenberg, one of the co-founders of TechStyle, has a startup career going back twenty years, beginning when he was just thirteen. His first foray into the field was starting an online bulletin board that eventually transformed into a gaming-centric site called Gamer’s Alliance. When he was seventeen, Mr. Goldenberg then sold that site to Intermix, Myspace’s parent company. Later, Intermix invited Mr. Goldenberg to become their COO, an offer that made him the youngest COO of a public company in history. Once he left Intermix, he started one of the earliest e-commerce sites, Intelligent Beauty, which later gave rise to other companies such as JustFab.
Since Adam Goldenberg had grown up with technology, he decided to use it to strengthen e-commerce growth efforts. Tim Collins, TechStyle’s chief officer of tech, had worked with both Mr. Goldenberg and Don Ressler, TechStyle’s other co-CEO, in the past. Collins said he was familiar with both of their talents in building brands that were digitally native. He noted that both men focused primarily on building and optimizing various aspects of the fashion industry. The tech officer went on to say everything they were developing should make both products and user experiences more relevant. Collins understands that this is an integral part increasing lifelong value and lowering customer acquisition costs.
Throughout the re-branding, though, TechStyle innovated right from the beginning. It launched its own proprietary e-commerce line including a FashionOS platform. Goldenberg and Don Ressler spent $70 million building that tech from start to finish.
Shawn Gold, TechStyle’s Chief Marketing Officer, says there are “six primary components to FashionOS: the membership system, retail system, personal styling system, e-commerce system, data management system, and the supply chain and fulfillment system.”
Heavy investment in tech wasn’t TechStyle’s only contribution here, as the company also made innovations to product selection and marketing. They launched a personal styling system in 2015. The system pairs complex algorithms with a variety of stylists to offer an improved shopping experience. Analysts at Kantar Retail say TechStyle’s brand of yoga clothing, Fabletics, is a leader in one of the five key trends affecting fashion–predictive analytics. Collins notes that TechStyle’s next move will be to look to personalization and machine learning.
A Digital Runway Takeover
TechStyle is a company with the high-energy flow and the openness one associates with tech startups. The company holds weekly meetings to discuss performance milestones and kick around new ideas and inventive ways to achieve that “higher purpose” in tech—namely, disrupting the industry or building the next big thing to change the technological landscape.
TechStyle employs 2000 workers with 4.5 million members and is well on its way to earning $700 million for 2017. Although there are whispers of an IPO in TechStyle’s future, Gold says anything can still happen thanks to their double-digit annual growth over the past seven years.