by Elizabeth Hazard
Technology, Fashion & The Power Women
Technology has touched every facet of our lives over the course of the last few decades. It’s an industry that is developing and advancing faster than we can blink our eyes. The past several years have seen the most dramatic shifts as technology continues to permeate more swiftly through the most inner workings of our world.
Retail and fashion are two pockets that have been affected drastically by and through these great technological advancements. Here are two fashion standouts who’ve led the charge in the tech revolution.
Fashion powerhouse Net-A-Porter broke the mold with its prolific debut in 2000 as one of the world’s most prestigious luxury fashion websites. What set the website apart from other fashion sites at the time was the fact that the site’s content was presented to users in a magazine format. Readers of this online “magazine” were able to simply click on an image in the layout and purchase the item in seconds flat. At the helm of this ingenuity was former journalist-turned-entrepreneur Dame Natalie Massenet. Combining her business acumen with her editorial skills, Massenet was able to present retail through the eyes of an editor, offering a more personal, richer experience to the consumer.
Massenet didn’t stop there though, as she continued to grow the site and it’s capabilities in this ever-expanding, website-dominant world. In 2009, she created the fashion discount site, the Outnet. In 2011, Mr. Porter, a menswear site was launched.
In 2012, the Net-A-Porter started selling beauty products. And, two years later, in 2014, in a move seemed counterintuitive to this tech-focused world, the company debuted its first print Magazine, aptly named Porter. The magazine has flourished in the years since and proves to have great showing power, always standing among some of the most sought-after fashion publications on stands today. Perhaps what solidifies Net-A-Porter’s prowess most however, are the apps that accompany the brand and its offerings. Four separate apps are currently available for download, offering users a choice in which they can view and purchase the world’s most luxurious fashion items.
Presenting its goods through several different mediums shows the company’s ability to mold and bend itself to the demands of the wavering world of designer fashion.
Polyvore is arguably one of the most popular, user-friendly fashion websites out there. Allowing users of the site to make their own fashion collages of outfits they put together by pulling pieces from different retailers, it gives shoppers a sense of creativity in styling looks themselves. The site has millions of users from all over the world and flaunts it’s own mission as “democratizing fashion.” Its surveys are a very strong resource in determining the trends of fashion and many retailers rely on its data season after season.
Polyvore has even led to the discovery of many now-sought-after star stylists, like Farran Fucci, who now styles the likes of Rihanna and Bella Hadid, to name just a few bold faces. The secret behind this website’s dominant presence in the world of fashion websites? Much of its success can be given to its honorary co-founder and CEO Jess Lee. Once a product manager at Google who considered Marisa Mayer a mentor, Lee first introduced herself to Polyvore through an email critiquing the website and offering suggestions on how to make it better.
A fan of the site who used it as a hobby at night after work as a way to unwind, Lee’s email to the founder of the site led to a talk over coffee, which then ended in a job offer to work at the company. Through her appointment to the role, Polyvore has been able to shift with the demands of a more technologically-advanced shopping world with smarter designs, more user-friendly tools and overall enhancement in quality. Lee wasn’t afraid to challenge the norm and she’s been recognized for her contributions. This past October Lee joined Sequoia Capital as the first US-based female investment partner in the company’s 44-year history. In a testament to the website’s strength, it was announced last July that Yahoo had purchased Polyvore for $230 million, teaming Lee up once again with her past mentor Marissa Mayer once again.
Both Net-A-Porter’s Natalie Massenet and Polyvore’s Jess Lee have both made an everlasting effect on fashion by successfully implementing the use of modern technology and evolving their companies as technology and the world around it evolves. Other sites and other company leaders have taken note and followed lead, but to be the jetsetters in this industry takes a bold sense of initiative and confidence, a passion for your cause and an ability to make decisions and never look back. Technology, fashion and fearless women will always go hand in hand, one success story after another.