Alexandra van Houtte

LONDON — When former Numéro magazine fashion assistant Alexandra Van Houtte created Tagwalk, she was looking for an efficient way to search through the thousands of seasonal fashion show and street-style images in order to spot trends and target items that her editors needed for shoots.

A year since its launch and with backing from the investor Carmen Busquets, Tagwalk has become a key search engine for editors and fashion assistants as they prep for shoots, create mood boards or trend stories. The platform is expanding with the introduction of Tag Shop, making much of its catwalk, look book and street-style imagery shoppable.

For Van Houtte, the feature offers an opportunity to showcase “a global view of what has actually been produced, and what’s actually shoppable,” from the catwalk. She said it lends itself particularly well to the fashion consumer who’s searching for specific items or looking to street-style images for inspiration.

“I really believe in street style,” said Van Houtte. “People refer to it much more because you can really project yourself wearing the clothes. It inspires you more than looking at a model, or a runway show, or a pack shot. You immediately feel that you want to be that cool person, and you want to wear the clothes. That’s why I’m really pushing street style for Tagwalk. The way the people dress has a power in the way consumers want to shop,” she added.

For the launch of Tag Shop, the company has partnered with Net-a-porter, Moda Operandi and, as well as individual luxury labels.

Tag Shop redirects users to the brands’ web sites. Van Houtte said she sees an opportunity to generate more interest and traffic around the single-brand web sites, something that’s critical for younger labels looking to introduce customers to their world.

“The idea was to partner up with brands’ web sites directly, instead of going to e-commerce only, in order to really drive traffic to, or, and bring the client back to the source,” said Van Houtte. “This was especially important for young brands, as I think it’s important for them to have a direct-to-consumer approach. Instead of only (thinking about) e-commerce, they should really push their own web site and their own vision, because every young designer has a different way they want their consumers to shop.”

Tagwalk isn’t the only site that’s helping shoppers source and purchase their favorite street-style looks. Last week saw the launch of the Browzzin app, which aims to help fashion lovers earn money through social commerce, allowing them to upload images, tag and share them. The site’s proprietary AI technology matches that merchandise with similar products from some 10,000 brands ranging from luxury to the high street, and redirects shoppers to the respective sites.

Tagwalk has been serving as a platform for young talent through another part of its site called Tag Talent, a dedicated section that presents a selection of up-and-coming brands the company believes are worth watching. By being part of Tag Talent, a brand can present its look book alongside catwalk imagery from major labels, in users’ searches. If a Tagwalk user is looking for a red dress, a Dior runway look can pop up, but so can a piece by a young designer with a lesser-known name.

In order to join Tag Talent, Van Houtte said a brand should have a story to tell and captivating images to support it: “We are a search engine and every young label we take on is going to be exposed right next to the biggest brands that have a fashion show. So, imagery is the number-one requirement. It has to be good enough for a user to want to pull it in for a shoot, or meet them for a buying session, or just get the urge to discover the brand. I really need to understand their universe; it’s really about their storytelling and also how many pieces they have in a collection. If they only have 10 pieces, it’s not enough.”

Once Van Houtte makes her pick, she asks the labels to pay a fee of 150 pounds a month and does what fashion titles have traditionally done with advertisers. She gives them exposure. In addition, she connects them with the industry and shares data from the site with them.

Tagwalk promotes the labels within the site and shares their contact details with its users. “We take that fee and we put them on the homepage, and we put them on the shopping homepage, and we do interviews with them. We really push designers at that young stage as much as possible to give them a big chance to get exposure and gain buyers and press coverage. It becomes a very good business circle for them,” added Van Houtte.

Brands such as the jewelry label Alighieri, which has just received Newgen sponsorship by the British Fashion Council; handbag label Tara Zadeh; Danish accessories label By Far; LVMH award winner Marine Serre, and buzzy American label Miaou, among others, have joined Tagwalk since their launch and have gone on to gain global stockists and international recognition.

Alighieri founder Rosh Mahtani said joining Tagwalk quickly gave the label access to the international stylists and publications it wanted to target. In addition to well-targeted visibility, a brand can simultaneously benefit from the data the platform can generate, and use it to inform its collections.

“The data has been very insightful,” said Mahtani. “It’s fascinating to see what stylists, buyers and consumers are searching for. For instance, I was hesitant to reintroduce pearls into the spring 2018 collection, as I was afraid that people were getting bored of them. However, the data from searches said otherwise, and the ‘Infernal Storm Pearl’ earrings have been our best-selling piece, selling out on both Net-a-porter and,” said Mahtani. “Data like this is invaluable for small brands which don’t necessarily have the budget to take big risks.”

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