Weardrobe (www.weardrobe.com) is a social, fashion-inspired media application founded by Richard Tong and Suzanne Xie. The site is an online closet that allows people to search and browse through each other’s closets via members who upload pictures of themselves and catalogue their own clothing by labeling or tagging each item (think Alicia Silverstone’s character Cher at the beginning of Clueless).
The site lets you see your closet’s content and keep track of how often you are wearing various garments via these uploaded photos of yourself. By making peoples’ closets searchable, Weardrobe says they are trying to help people discover clothes that work for their users closets. We caught-up with founder Rich Tong who told us that Weardrobe “is about putting your closet to best use, and continuing to discover new ways of styling what’s in it.”
Read-on to see how this application got its start and what is in store for its future…
Q: You studied architecture at Cornell, then got into fashion at Coach. How did you end-up getting involved in this site?
A: Maybe the best way of answering this question is to answer why I decided to study architecture in the first place… After graduating from architecture school, I wasn’t even remotely interested in being a traditional architect. I thought of architecture simply as a way of thinking – using design as a solution to solving problems. It’s really fun taking this approach into other industries of design and Weardrobe, for me, is exactly that.
Q: What made you take the risk and quit your job and move to San Francisco?
A: Well, I’m 24. And while Coach was a great opportunity, I saw a ton of potential in Weardrobe. It got to a point where I had to quit Coach and work on Weardrobe full-time in order to give it a fair chance. Moving to SF wasn’t so much about me, but rather what’s best for the business. We are at a stage in the company where we’re looking to raise additional funding, and want to be closer to more investors.
Q: Can you describe the site for those not familiar with it?
A: Weardrobe is an online closet that allows people to search and browse through each other’s closets. By making people’s closets searchable, Weardrobe lets you discover clothes that work for you and your closet. It’s about putting your closet to best use, and continuing to discover new ways of styling what’s in it.
Q: What are some of the features on Weardrobe besides uploading clothing?
A: Currently, you can upload photos, tag what you’re wearing and Weardrobe will add these to your online closet. You can also browse through our photo gallery for style inspiration, or search for photos of your favorite clothes. We’re working on a few things of course – so stay tuned!
Q: How are you getting the word out about the site without the backing of formal PR?
A: Just recently, we started reaching out to a handful of amazing fashion bloggers to get their feedback about our site. They’re already so great with contributing content to our site that it’s an added plus when we share what we’re working on with them and they share it with their readers. They’re our ‘w stylists.’
Q: What have been some of the challenges you’ve encountered?
A: Building traffic, getting users, and raising funding (in no particular order) are the core challenges we face almost everyday. At the same time, keeping a pulse on the tech and fashion worlds is a whole other challenge in itself.
Q: How do you think your background has helped you in developing this site?
A: My background in architecture has really helped with being practical about our design layouts and our product choices. It’s really easy to get distracted with wanting to add more features, so it’s good to be disciplined about leaving out the crap and focusing on designing a product that works one function at a time.
Q: What’s your day-to-day work-life like?
A: It depends what’s on our plate really. One day, we’re slaving away to revamp our pitch deck for investors, another we’ll be searching the blogoshere endlessly for great bloggers who might be interested in our site, and the next we’ll be trying to design/redesign a feature. Without a doubt, it’s different everyday.
Q: What are your ultimate hopes for the site?
A: We want to make clothing searchable.
Q: Any other sites you think we should know about?
A: Chictopia and Lookbook are doing some really interesting things with blogging and style sharing and we’ve been compared to those sites on a few occasions. But we’re trying to do something a little bit different with Weardrobe and I’m excited to be working on it.