In Japan, mobile lookbooks help take the stress out of shopping

In Japan, mobile lookbooks help take the stress out of shopping

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iQon-looksPhoto via iQon

Japanese women are known for being fashion enthusiasts who love all things Kawaii. Fashion ‘lookbooks’ or coordination services are becoming an essential part of enjoying fashion in the digital age, especially in this corner of the world.

One popular service in this space is fashion coordinating site iQon, which has over one million monthly users. Another popular fashion e-commerce service Zozotown has published its own original lookbook content, created by store staff and covering a variety of brands. And long before that, fashionistas have expressed themselves through their styles, uploading photos of daily look on their blogs.

I recently came across another fashion coordinating site called Dre’Che, a service operated by Kakaku.com. Kakaku Group runs a range of websites including Japan’s Yelp equivalent, Tabelog, and price comparison site Kakaku.com. Its Dre’che service was launched in August of 2010, four months after iQon was released.

Dreche-app-closet Dreche-app-coordinate

The concept of the site is very similar to that of iQon, with the goal of making it easier for users to discover cool fashion items. On Dre’che, users first answer questions about their age, height, favorite magazine, and what kind of clothes they wear. After answering these initial questions, they can browse looks that other users have created and then like or comment on them, or bookmark them for later reference.

Dre’Che released its iPhone app back in June of 2012, allowing users to easily take photos of items they own, and then use them to create their own looks. The app had over 7,000 items registered at its initial launch, thus offering a lot of value to first-time users who have not yet added/uploaded pictures of clothes from their own closet. Interestingly, this feature of creating looks is only available on smartphone. And as far as I can tell, there is not much interactions between users.

Bemool

Another service, Bemool, takes a different approach. The site, which launched in July of 2012, has registered female stylists who pick out clothes for users. Users can answer questions about fashion tastes, including size, occasion, and budget. Subsequently they receive fashion coordination ideas from a stylist via email. This proposal process costs 3,000 yen, and then an additional 2,000 yen for each proposal. Bemool also provides a service to have the items shipped to home, and that’s available for about 30,000 yen.

With the spread of mobile phones, online shopping has become an everyday activity for many Japanese users. However, many e-commerce websites remain just a gigantic collection of products, leaving many consumers with the challenge of finding something they like. Fashion lookbooks remove this hassle, helping users discover great clothes.

In the mobile market, there are no real borders. And other global players fighting for user mindshare in Japan and abroad include Pose and ZooLook. It will be interesting to see who will win out in this cut-throat war.