Over the past decade, hundreds of online fashion companies have launched across the country. Although the startup market was once predominantly male, companies like Gilt Groupe, ModCloth, Moda Operandi, Rent The Runway and Nasty Gal are all examples of women who have leveraged fashion and technology to create successful businesses across multiple categories and niches.
One of the newly emerging meccas for this is the Los Angeles market. The city has long been a hub for entrepreneurial fashion founders, particularly in street and ready-to-wear, as well as its fair share of digital businesses, though most notably in ad-tech and social networking. With it is a new crop of fresh, fledgling fashion tech startups, including several that have been founded by women, it’s no surprise that these two worlds have happily merged in the Southern California city.
Launched in 2011 by local entrepreneur Heather Lipner, Uncovet features design-centric products targeting style setters. Products are delivered to readers via email with the option to click through to buy. Ellie, launched in early 2013 by co-founders Lindsay Daniels and Marcus Greinke, targets the Lululemon set with stylish workout wear. Tradesy, meanwhile, joins startups like San Francisco-based PoshMark and several others in offering a place for fashionistas to sell gently used clothing as an alternative to sites like eBay. Shoedazzle, which claims Kim Kardashian as a co-founder, is also based in Los Angeles and reflects its hometown air.
With L.A.’s fashion and design industry roots, fashion tech founders can find a wealth of resources here. The city has a long history in fashion production and design, especially in examining the bustling Fashion District downtown. This infrastructure gives web startups a potential reach and edge over other markets in the category, second only to New York. It enables the potential for branching into branded lines, specialty collections and, of course, tapping into other local fashion companies. While living costs in L.A. are comparable to other cities, it’s generally less expensive than San Francisco and New York, which makes the climate a bit easier on entrepreneurs looking to roll the dice in the digital fashion market. The growing presence of tech startups overall has increased over the years, which means for potentially greater development, talent and other business resources for founders located here.
While online retail is the current trend in the city, it’s also home to quite a few other women-owned businesses targeting fashion and digital as well. In media, Who What Wear Daily and Rachel Zoe’s Zoe Report are well-known, and several high-level fashion blogs are also based here. Though women are ruling the newly launched roost, L.A. is home to quite a few male-founded fashion tech businesses as well as ad tech and other startups targeting fashion brands.
What began as the Silicon Valley in the tech and internet category has evolved to the Silicon Alley, Beach, Flat Irons and Prairie—all fantastic cities with blooming local companies leveraging the power of technology in the fashion business.
Patricia Handschiegel is a serial media and internet entrepreneur with a background in internet telecom engineering and information delivery and communications platform business. She founded the first social media startup in the fashion category online, Stylediary.net in 2004, which was acquired in 2007. She has been an advisor to fashion startups and companies including Kaboodle (sold to Hearst) and many others, as well as celebrities and high profile companies, and has spoken about digital business at SXSW Interactive, MIT Futures of Entertainment 4 and many other events. Her projects and insight have been featured in the Wall Street Journal,Mashable, TechCrunch,