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Rebecca Minkoff wants to start fashion tech’s next big movement

A night in the Flatiron district brought together dreamers and doers for a chance to network and learn about the journey to success.

Guests were greeted on the sixth floor of Q Labs, a shared co-working space, as chandeliers lit up the room.

It was the “Fashion Is Your Business” live podcast featuring Uri and Rebecca Minkoff.

The night was broken up into two segments.

First, “American Fashion Podcast” dove into the history of Rebecca Minkoff, the brand, then later Fashion is Your Business took over the evening.

The two podcasts recently merged to take on the fashion podcast space, Pavan Bahl CEO of Open Source Fashion and co-founder of Fashion is Your Business told FashInvest earlier this year.

Rebecca, responding to a question from host, Charles Beckwith described how she started in 2001 cutting up tee shirts and making garments completely on her own.

She got her big break when she linked up with “Dharma & Greg” actress Jenna Elfman and created “The Morning After” bag. She said the response to the bag’s launched caused an “incredible jump in sales and awareness.”

“I knew that I could not sustain this company on my own,” she said.

So she called on her brother Uri, and he stepped in as CEO of the brand.

Uri said the brand is a hit with millennial women and this sparked a reoccurring question on how the brand connects so easily with younger generations.

The answer lies in crowdsourcing, which has become a cornerstone of the Minkoff’s success.

“They told me exactly what they wanted and there was no holding back,” Rebecca said.

The brand connects with 150 muses everyday to find out what they’re into at the moment and they’ve found that customization is quite important to their shoppers. If 20 or more girls request a certain style handbag or certain color combination, Rebecca creates it.

“We understand the dynamic of how she is behaving,” Uri said.

Liz Bacelar, the show’s sole female host, asked the team if they have any outside investors.

“My brother mortgaged his house and maxed out his credit cards and that is what funded the growth,” Rebecca said.

The team took extra capital in 2012 with the help of bankers Rosenthal and Rosenthal to keep up with demand and changing technology.

When asked about the change in their strategy during the financial crisis, their responses were a bit of a shock to some of the audience.

Uri and Rebecca said the team listened to what changed in their shoppers’ financial situations. The brand slashed prices by $100 and took a hit in order to maintain loyalty.

This understanding and willingness to do business with “her,” led the brand to triple-digit growth, Uri said.

The Minkoffs were one of the first brands to adopt a “see-now-buy-now” model and the first to integrate tech like wearables, virtual reality and connected fitting rooms into their fashion business.

Other fashion brands have followed in their footsteps to integrating this direct-to-consumer model into their own runway shows and tinkering with tech has become the norm amongst high to mid priced brands like Balenciaga, Moschino and Tommy Hilfiger.

Robin, the next guest host, expanded on his opinion of how he believes Rebecca Minkoff is the new brand that sets the standards for technology beyond wearables.

Their “store of the future” features dressing rooms to make their customer more comfortable. A shopper can order things inside the dressing room and also adjust the lighting to the specific occasion’s setting. This comfort proved to be a major return on investment, Uri said.

When asked what was next for the brand, Uri explained that in 18 months, the brand will have body scanners to better help shoppers with size and fit. Through this, they hope to eliminate their current 30 percent return rate.

Rebecca closed the night with her vision of the brand. She said she hopes to giver her shoppers product and content that encourages them to “create and design her own life.”

“Our largest goal is creating a movement,” she said. “There is a lot left on the list.”

By Emily McMonagle



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