Lou is looking to put fashion content from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more into one sleek, shoppable package.
This story first appeared in the July 8, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The technology start-up launched a tablet-only app this week, which pulls the latest social media posts from what it deems to be 150 of fashion’s leading voices. The content is divided by designers, fashion insiders, magazines, muses, street-style photographers and bloggers and users can choose to look at the latest posts by category or all together via “The Latest Inspiration.” An iPhone version to set to bow in two months.
Founder David Skokna, who started working on the app 18 months ago, is looking to build Lou into a destination where users spend five minutes of their time, hopefully multiple times a day. Instead of checking Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or a magazine or bloggers’ Web sites to see what’s happening in fashion, Lou keeps track of social updates in one place. Users can choose who they want to follow on the app, which is updated in real time and is largely shoppable.
“We’re constantly working on expanding the network. The plan is to become the main source of inspiration for luxury fashion,” Skokna said, adding that the name Lou is inspired by cultural icons that share the same namesake, such as Lou Doillon and Lou Reed. “That does not end with 150 sources — but we had to start somewhere.”
The venture is self-funded by Skokna, who also founded digital agency Huge Inc. in 1999, where he worked for clients such as CNN, Ikea, JetBlue, Target, HBO Go and Pepsi. Lou already has a staff of nearly 30 employees, who work out of the company’s Brooklyn Heights headquarters (they will relocate to Manhattan’s Flatiron District Aug. 1), including 15 developers, five who work on design, strategy and business development, as well as a team of eight who are responsible for content — and making it shoppable.
Skokna has a twofold revenue plan. The first is to partner with publishers or brands and allow them to use Lou’s proprietary technology to create content and commerce experiences. The other is to either keep a percentage from transactions that take place on Lou or to sell advertising.
Fashion is just the first vertical of many that Skokna envisions will use the company’s technology platform. Bridal will roll out in the coming months, and the plan is to get into beauty, men’s toys and kids. Within fashion, though, Skokna said that Lou will have a global reach, including Brazilian and Chinese versions that specifically target the fashion enthusiast in each of those countries. “It’s fluid and elastic,” he said. “It can be topic-based or [we can] localize it. It’s easy for us to tune in and adjust it for those specific markets or interests.”