Gilt Groupe founder Alexis Maybank, along with former Gilt Groupe creative chief Leah Park Thursday launched a new shopping app called Project September.
Project September, named after fashion’s most important month, allows users to upload photos or view other people's photo streams, and click on an item in the image to buy it.
The project is based on data gleaned from searches on Gilt Groupe that showed users would leave social media sites to search for items they had seen on them. Gilt Groupe was sold to Saks Fifth Avenue in January for $250 million.
Maybank tells Fast Company that Project September’s highly visual interface is meant to mimic a fashion magazine spread—the most enjoyable part of flipping through those magazines for many readers.
"Whenever I saw an item I liked on a friend's social media feed, it would take me ages to locate it at a store where I could buy it," Maybank told Fast Company. "I wanted to create a platform where you could see a product you liked in a photo, then tap it to buy it on the spot."
That happens a lot, as Maybank and Park’s experience at Gilt Groupe also showed, and, despite social media’s visual strengths and retailers’ marketing efforts, it can be frustrating to track something down to actually buy it. And even when it is found, there are usually several steps to take.
To shorten and ease that whole process, Project September has partnered with brands and retailers including Bloomingdale's, Net-a-Porter, Saks Fifth Avenue, Coach, Ferragamo, Fendi, Nasty Gal, and Free People, among others. When an image is posted, fashion editors, bloggers, celebrities, marketers and others can link the item to a store for purchase using Project September. Those linking the item earn between 8% to 15% of the purchase value, and Project September also takes an undisclosed cut.
The shopping process sounds similar to that employed by other image-based shopping apps, including Spring and even Pinterest. While both of these companies let brands curate their selections on the app, Project September relies on a more social following, smart given that many customers trust their friends' opinions when purchasing an item.
The company has recruited Marie Claire creative director Nina Garcia, beauty expert Frederic Fekkai, and model Christy Turlington Burns as fashion advisors, who have created Project September profiles to share content, according to Fast Company.
The project has also received an undisclosed round of angel funding First Round Capital, Greylock Partners, Built by Girls Ventures, and Female Founders Fund Ventures, according to the report.