Social shopping Fashism

Source: NYTimes, Nov 2010

Fashism, a social shopping site and mobile application, has gained a following for letting its users get instantaneous feedback from fellow fashionistas on ensembles and clothing items they want to purchase.

On Friday, the New York-based company announced it came into some cash to help fuel the company. Fashism, which has been self-funded until now, raised around $1 million in a Series A round of venture financing.

For the funding, however, the company sought out investors beyond the traditional financier circuit.

Ashton Kutcher, a well-known actor and former model who has gained credibility in the technology community for his social media mastery and keen investments, led the round for the start-up through his fund, A-Grade Investments.

His wife, actress Demi Moore along with fashion critic and Project Runway judge Nina Garcia, also participated. Highline Venture Partners and SV Angel, managed by noted Silicon Valley investor Ron Conway, Vast Ventures and Rick Webb of the Barbarian Group, also contributed in the round.

“We wanted to get mobile and social people who understood what we were doing as well as fashion people,” said Ashley Granata, co-founder and chief marketing officer of the company.

The site’s premise is simple: Users upload a photo of themselves wearing a particular ensemble and pose a question to the Fashism community, like “Would this work for a holiday party?” or “How does this look?” Other Fashism users can then leave comments and rate your outfit by clicking “I like it” or “I hate it.”

Fashism is at the forefront of a new wave of sites, such as ModCloth,GoTryitOn and that try to make shopping on the Web more social.

Since Fashism was founded in the fall of 2009, its online community of real-time fashion critics has swelled to around 40,000 registered users online and around 50,000 who use the company’s iPhone application. The site, which doesn’t require users to create accounts to surf and rate looks, gets around 1 million page views per month.

Although the company is still figuring out its business model, the founders say they are partnering with national retailers and have several major deals in the works.

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