Combine eBay and Pinterest, and what you get is Infinite Wardrobe. Launched last Tuesday, the Brisbane-based startup gives Australians the freedom to buy and sell their clothes and accessories with mere taps on their iPhones. Best part is, there are no commissions or membership fees to pay. But what’s the catch? There is none.
The new Infinite Wardrobe mobile app breaks down the barriers of selling online. As Co-Founder and Managing Director, Molly Taylor, explains, “We have created a community of fashion lovers, where clothes get re-sold and re-loved instead of forgotten. It’s important for us to break down the barriers of selling online by offering no fees to sell and connecting the fashion hungry in Australia and eventually, the world.”
Not only does the app offer a free marketplace, but also allows users to flaunt their clothing collection for admirers to ‘watch’. Should they decide to switch their ‘not for sale’ items to ‘for sale’, watchers will receive a notification informing them that the items are available for purchase.
Given how drastically the fashion industry has changed over the past two decades due to reduction in tariff levels and increase in local production costs, it’s become harder for up-and-coming designers to get their labels off the ground. Infinite Wardrobe can also be used as an avenue for designers fresh out of University, TAFE or College to connect with local fashion lovers. They can showcase their work and sell their creations without paying any commissions or forking out thousands from their own hip pocket for a shop-front lease.
Infinite Wardrobe also has a ‘Feedback’ feature through which users can vote for functionalities they would like to see in the app. The option that gets the most number of votes will be added in newer versions of the app.
From idea to commercial reality
Infinite Wardrobe is a self-funded startup that began its life as a simple Facebook page tagged as ‘Lets Trade Wardrobes.’ Gathering momentum since February this year, the Infinite Wardrobe social community now connects over 8,000 fashion-conscious individuals and their collections.
Co-Founders Molly Taylor, Brendt Sheen, Portia Miller and Leigh Woodford joined forces when they heard through the grapevine they all had a similar idea – to create a global fashion community that puts the consumer in control with no fees and opportunities to connect with like-minded fashion lovers.
But like many other entrepreneurs, the initial idea was borne from frustration – in this case, with third-party sellers like eBay that charge a high commission on each sale.
“I got sick of putting my items up on eBay and having to pay a high commission on each sale. It seemed unfair that Top Dogs take such a big cut, making money from people selling their own items,” says Taylor.
“So I joined forces with the other Co-Founders, and decided to create a selling platform that doesn’t reduce people’s profit margins. We made Infinite Wardrobe free to use, and that’s why we’re seeing such a huge uptake.”
In two weeks, Infinite Wardrobe will offer a promotional feature valued at $1.50. At the moment, all items listed on the app appear as small icons. With the promotional feature, items will appear bigger, so it stands out when people are scrolling through the items.
They also plan on introducing ‘star points’ – a rewards-based system that will allow users to earn points from certain actions. Users can purchase rewards to hand out to those who, for instance, promote their item on social media.
Taylor says they’re firm on keeping the app advertisement-free.
“We don’t want to offer an app where users are spammed with ad pop-ups. Down the line, we may promote special deals and rewards, but it won’t be the ‘in your face’ kind of ad, more like subtle affiliate marketing,” she says.
In the months leading up to launch, Infinite Wardrobe gained an 8,000-strong follower-base across their social media channels; and 600 downloads were seen within 24 hours of launching into the Apple Appstore.
Taylor and Sheen own a mobile software development company CodeHeroes, and so there was no need to outsource the development of Infinite Wardrobe.
“We already have the technical talent, the designers and the marketing expertise in our company CodeHeroes, so we were able to utilise our own resources,” says Taylor.
Taylor says this was their biggest achievement – having the resources to fund their own startup.
“We started CodeHeroes back in March, and it grew from two to 10 people. We bootstrapped the company, and now we’re able to use our own resources rather than look for external investment. We won’t need to raise capital until we expand globally,” she adds.
The biggest challenge for the team has been getting the right functionality in a short amount of time.
“We really want to add more functionality for our users. But due to time constraints, we had to prioritise the most important features, and now we’re getting our users to help us shape the app,” says Taylor.
Infinite Wardrobe will be available on Google Play next year, shortly before it’s launched into international markets.
“We decided to open it up to Australia first and get as much feedback from our local users before launching overseas. This way we can improve the app and address any existing issues before we take the big leap,” says Taylor.
Working in a male-dominated industry
Although technology is seen as a male-dominated industry, Taylor says more and more women are entering the space. The best way to encourage women to start their own technology company, she says is to “welcome them into the community, and help them through the daunting process of building a startup”.
Taylor is currently involved in a non-for-profit, global initiative called CoderDojo that teaches children and teenagers (between 7 and 17 years of age) how to program. She notices that the ratio of males to females is fairly even.
“It’s definitely different with the younger generation. We’re seeing a lot of young girls and teenagers coming through, they make up about 40 percent of the total participants,” she says.
This is certainly good news on the technology horizon.
Advice to startups
Taylor’s number one advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to engage with the startup community.
“Find a co-working space and talk to other startups about their experiences. River City Labs has done absolute wonders for us. We’re surrounded by people who are doing the same thing that we’re doing. Everyone shares their ideas, their contacts, and really help each other to not make the same mistakes,” says Taylor.
She adds that networking with like-minded entrepreneurs helps founders build their contacts, and that their businesses will inevitably grow from that shared knowledge.