NEW YORK, United States — They have seasonal shopping budgets of $50,000 and above, and demanding social schedules to match. Their wardrobes span thousands upon thousands of pieces — from rare Hermès bags to Fendi furs — often housed in multiple homes across the globe. For the world’s wealthiest women, keeping their bursting closets in order can often require more than the typical spring cleaning. Now, two elite services, Editeur in Brazil and ClosetHQ in the US, are leveraging technology to help them manage their wardrobes, and decide which combination of items to wear, and when — rendering Cher Horowitz’s virtual closet in the classic 1990s movie Clueless something of a reality.
“Whether they’re running industries, running a social network or running their family, in the world we live in now, the clothing currency is madness,” says Jason Campbell, the founder of ClosetHQ, who has worked as a stylist and personal shopper to private clients such as Wendi Murdoch and Ivanka Trump for the past decade. “Just because they have a lot of money, they have to be a style arbiter. And that’s where ClosetHQ and I come in. The [high net-worth] client doesn’t have time to be sitting around [in their closet] and be like, ‘Okay, well let me see what I can put together and let me sort of play around,’” Campbell says.
From Closet+ to Cloth, the market is full of closet management apps. But most are self-service products, requiring the user to manually upload items to their digitised inventory, a laborious and time-intensive task that presents a major hurdle to consumer adoption, particularly when a wardrobe is vast.
Both Editeur and ClosetHQ take a full-service approach to building their clients' virtual closets. Editeur sends a messenger service to collect pieces, which are photographed, tagged and returned within 24 hours. Campbell, meanwhile, shoots his clients' closets personally, with a photographer and a few assistants. “Most closets are done in two days maximum,” he says. “We just come in and we capture the products on a mannequin. Every item is labeled so we can search [for it] on the site.” Once the images are uploaded, a client can log into each of the companies' respective websites and browse a virtual catalog of their wardrobe.
“Closet HQ provides an amazing level of organisation,” attests Ivanka Trump. “I make it a priority to be organised, because frankly I find it stressful not to be. Being able to transition between my roles as an executive, a mother and a wife requires extreme efficiency and keeping my closet hyper-organised saves me so much time. I’m able to get ready faster knowing what I have to choose from in a great digital format.”
After the online foundation is laid, both services address that perennial question of what to wear — and when — taking into account a wide range of factors, from events to weather conditions. “Every day we suggest three different outfits according to the weather and occasion,” explains Giovanna Meneghel, the founder of Editeur, who previously worked as a design assistant at Alexander McQueen and has also clocked time at Céline and Carlos Miele. “I visit our clients personally and map everything about their style.” The service also keeps “a timeline of previous looks,” records which pieces the client wears the most frequently, and offers suitcase-packing assistance.
“Typically, a client calls me or emails me like, ‘Jason, I have this event on Friday night, what should I wear?’” says Campbell, who works primarily with American and Chinese clients. “Or, ‘Next week I have x cocktail parties and x engagements.’ So I’m able to service the clients and assemble looks for their schedule.”
“I’m a very frequent traveller and I found that planning ahead has eliminated a lot of the stress that goes along with that,” says Trump. “I love knowing what I’m going to wear.”
But, although they leverage technology to help deliver their services, Campbell and Meneghel both highlight the continued importance of personal touch. “Our main concern is that clients feel that despite it being an online service, it is highly personalised," Meneghel says.
“This is a platform with a human component,” adds Campbell. “I probably bought 80 to 90 percent of [the client’s] wardrobe, so whenever I’m assembling [looks for the client], it’s being assembled from an incredibly informed space. It’s no shot in the dark here. It’s really being assembled based on how that client usually dresses, and what that client usually likes.”
Both services have adopted a subscription model. Editeur clients are charged a startup fee of R$10 (about $4.25) per item, then a monthly fee of less than $100. Campbell declined to disclose ClosetHQ’s rates, but noted that there is a flat fee upfront and then a sliding subscription rate “that covers x amount of hours for multiple client needs, [whether it’s] closet purging or shopping or [look] assemblage.”
Both platforms offer integrated shopping services, as well. Editeur curates suggested looks for its clients, pulling from external e-tailers. "The cool thing is that at the moment a customer buys any of the outfits or separate pieces we promote, it will be automatically registered and catalogued in the person's Editeur profile," Meneghel says.
"Clients love when you deliver new products to them all the time," Campbell says. "So I use this platform to suggest different products that I find in my travels — exquisite earrings I found in Brazil or exquisite clutches that I get from the Philippines — in a mini-store. I’ll assemble looks for them even before they commit to the purchase of that item: ‘Here are ten looks with those earrings in them, because I think this would be an amazing purchase for you and you can see that before you pay.’"
But though the service enables shopping, ClosetHQ also encourages closet efficiency, Campbell says. “It helps the client to not continue to buy the same thing. I have clients who spend a half a million dollars a year or a quarter of a million dollars a year [on their wardrobe], but they really want to make sure that the items are used and they spend responsibly. Oftentimes what happens is the client just keeps buying the same things over and over, and is really only wearing one version of that tailored black jacket. Clothes get lost in the cracks of your closet, [but with ClosetHQ], everything is in plain sight to see. This technology isn’t going to prevent clients from shopping, but if they want to shop, at least they’ll keep adding different things into their wardrobe.”
Currently, about half of Campbell’s regular private clients are on ClosetHQ, and he has plans to “identify more of the right clients for this platform. Some of the [current] clients — their needs are too seasonal.” He also plans to license the platform to other stylists.
Editeur, meanwhile, is set to launch an English-langauge site and a mobile app this month, “so clients can access their closets anywhere and anytime," Meneghel says. And the subscription model has become more flexible, thanks to customer feedback. “Many people don’t start to work with Editeur because of the monthly obligation, so now we want to give freedom to clients to chose if they want just a specific offering, such as packing for a trip or cataloging a special part of the closet.”
“One of the phrases that I hear most often is, ‘I never would have thought to put those pieces together,'" says Campbell. "Something makes it into a wardrobe because the client was attracted to it for some reason. But oftentimes, it just sits in their closet because they don’t know how to assemble it. They’re like, ‘I love this top, it’s so pretty. Now what?’ So I’m able to come in there and put things to purpose — and not just a single time over. ‘You want ten looks for this top? Here are ten looks with this top.’ The client becomes so excited because there are things in their wardrobe that they now get to wear and put into circulation.”
Research for this article was contributed by Jorge Grimberg in São Paulo.