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Fashion Tech & Gadget Site Kwaleo Joins The Personalisation Web Brigade And Makes A Pretty Good Fist (Bump) Of It

KwaleoMillennials, similarly to how the character of Blain, in the Arnie classic Predator, didn’t have time to bleed, ain’t got time to shop!

Shop that is, in the classical sense. Looking at things for more than a couple of seconds before making a snap judgement, trying things on, “browsing”, measuring space at home to see if a new dining table will fit – all no longer necessary, thanks to tech, apps, social media, and a generational shift change in the way we think about life.

Millennials are the ultimate live fast, stay-healthy-so-you-don’t-die-young generation. They like having options, but only if they are good options. They do not want to waste their time contemplating something that does not fit in with their lifestyles – and millennials attach a lot – a-lot…of importance to lifestyle.

And that is why we are now entering the age of personalisation. The baby boomer generation did things together – they watched the same movies, went to the same places on holiday, were educated in the same ways, thought about the same things.

Millennials are content only when products, services, even TV shows – are tweaked to suit their personal tastes.

And why not? Quite possibly the only reason the baby boomers did not think the same way was because they didn’t have access to the digital tools we have now, which make personalisation possible.

Take Kwaleo. I was recently emailed by Kwaleo’s founder, Laurent Antoine Faboumy in response to a piece I wrote about, the personalised fashion discovery site which utilises machine learning techniques and a powerful algorithm to learn about user’s fashion tastes and show them appropriate matches only.

Custom is a great site that self-curates and bombards its users with carefully selected products that it thinks / knows they will like. And the more you use it, the better it gets. Grabble is an app that does something similar – it wants to be the go-to app for fashion and lifestyle. Use Bus Checker and Citymapper to get to work, listen to Tidal or Apple Music on your way in, and grab 10 minutes on Grabble as you down your morning coffee – all part of the daily millennial routine – you feel bad if you don’t do it.

So how does Kwaleo measure up? Pretty well – to use a nifty fashion metaphor, its cut from similar cloth to Custom and Grabble – but it’s differentiated enough to make all 3 services complementary. Its Apple Samsung and HTC – the products will suit different people but the underlying concept suits pretty much everyone.

Kwaleo definitely has a similar look and feel to Custom for example, but then there are also clear differences. You start by taking a quick survey to establish what kinds of things you are looking for. That is helpful although personally, and this goes for all personalisation apps, not just Kwaleo, I sometimes wonder if by completing these surveys I am walling off a load of stuff I would actually like to see.

For example, the survey might ask me am I romantic or adventurous? Well, both, but if I choose romantic does that mean I don’t get to see adventurous? I think the same about news stories – am I interested in European politics or the Middle East? The answer is both but I have to choose one – if I choose Europe, does this mean I miss out on breaking news about the Middle East?

remember when people with personalised numberplates were basically saying to the world “it’s fine to hate me” – digital progress means that personalisation is in vogue like never before

In the context of a fashion app it’s obviously not the end of the world, but in a competitive field I would probably go with the site that provides a satisfactory resolution to that dilemma – but that’s just me. But wait, being “just me” is what being a millennial is all about, right?

Often, it seems to me, millennials tread a fine line between being “just me” and “fitting in”. It’s a point of pride to many millennials that they can thrive in any social setting – that they possess the social tools and instincts to accomplish this. To find yourself out of your comfort zone is to fail.

So the diversity of Kwaleo is good. It doesn’t just do fashion. What is cool about the site is that as soon as I am on it I can see 4 or 5 quirky, stand out or challenging items that I wouldn’t mind a closer look at. And there is a useful menu with things like “top searches”, “popular” or “brands”. I might be an independent, free thinking millennial but now and then I don’t mind a sneaky peek at what other people are looking at or what’s trending.

So full marks for the landing page – it draws you in. Whoever is curating the site is obviously doing a good job. For my tastes maybe it’s a tiny bit kitsch at times – it kind of reminds me of a shop called Athena that used to be around in the 80’s and 90s and as far as I know has closed down. It’s where you bought psychedelic posters of the Mona Lisa or your favourite band (the Stone Roses obvs), and your sister bought posters of muscly men holding babies or Tom Cruise.

Another really good point is the extras – there’s video content, guides, a section called stories which I couldn’t quite work out what it was for but still, I was curious about it – there’s even a manifesto and a pitch deck – how very startup chic!

It’s like somebody has bothered to gather together all the cool concepts and ideas around fashion and technology that you like – and made it easy to search them and purchase them – for that you owe them a big thank-you.

“I think the best way to understand the concept of this project is simply to ask yourself if you remember playing with Lego as a child? You could combine these little plastic blocks in countless ways and come up with your own original creations, right? Well, what if online shopping was just as engaging, fun and personal as playing with Lego?”

So says founder Faboumy and I would broadly agree with him. Is it as exciting as playing with Lego when you were a kid? Hmm, maybe not quite. Is anything that exciting? Not really!

This site is a cool plaything for adults with some excellent digital touches and innovations applied that make it very user friendly. I could see myself visiting this site on a regular basis.

A bit like Athena, however, where I used to spend a lot of time without buying much (and I guess I wasn’t alone here) converting browsers into buyers, especially within such a crowded marketplace, might be tough. But you have to be in it to win it and millennials will be grateful that Kwaleo has bought a ticket. This site is like a with cheaper, smaller products perhaps?

The pitch deck tells you a lot about the overall product. Focused, thoughtful, geared towards success. Remind you of any generation in particular? Kwaleo sure knows its market. Let’s end with another gratuitous Arnie quote – this one from the heart, and all about entrepreneurs.

“For me life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.”


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