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Stylewhile makes online shopping as fun as gaming

Finnish startup Stylewhile turns a simple webstore into an interactive shopping experience.Stylewhile

Shopping for clothes online is convenient, but it suffers from one severe flaw. You might be able to see what the clothes look like, but you can’t see what they would look like on your type of body.

Finnish startup Stylewhile* has created an online styling room to solve this problem. They turn a simple webstore into an interactive shopping experience.

“I was at home with my two kids struggling to buy clothes online,” says Jutta Haaramo, the company’s founder and CEO. “There were only static pictures with no interaction. I thought that the experience should be centred on the user. So the idea started from my own personal frustration.”

Stylewhile allows a shopper to find an appropriate body type and then mix and match different items to see how they would look either singly or in combinations. Playing around with the service is entertaining, and that is no surprise: Haaramo spent many years at gaming powerhouse Digital Chocolate.

“My background in gaming definitely helped,” she says. “Games are fun and interactive for users. I believe that the online shopping experience can be like games.”

Big name brands

Stylewhile received a significant boost in 2013 when it partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue. Working with a recognised fashion brand name gave the company a lot of publicity, such as a glowing mention from Glamour magazine.

“We learned a lot from working with Saks Fifth Avenue,” Haaramo continues. “For example, we learned how to make the buying process simple. We also realised that you can’t be tied to one device or platform.”

Stylewhile’s business idea came from CEO Jutta Haaramo’s own personal frustration to buy clothes online. Image: Stylewhile

One reason why Stylewhile is attractive to such retailers is that the technology uses their clients’ existing images of models and products.

“From the very beginning we wanted to use the pictures without the physical products,” Haaramo explains. “We use the images, not the products, so there is no need to ship sample clothes to us or reshoot new pictures.”

Although the Saks deal garnered attention in the US, Stylewhile’s main customers at present are European retailers. These stores don’t have the resources to build an interactive shopping experience on their own, so instead they partner with Stylewhile.

New opportunities

The company continues to turn heads in the industry. Stylewhile was named a finalist for the Topshop Challenge, a competition to find the best startup technology to enhance the shopping experience for customers. While all of the other contestants were from either the UK or US, the eventual winner was Finland’s Stylewhile.

“It’s great to see such responses both from individuals and the fashion industry,” says Haaramo.

Major venture capitalists like Finland-based Reaktor and Lifeline Ventures have backed the company, allowing them to continually refine their solution. Haaramo says they are fine-tuning their experience and learning from customer feedback.

“I love this challenge of entrepreneurship,” she concludes. “There are so many opportunities around the corner. I can’t wait to see where it will take us.”

*Part of Seezona since 2018

By: David J. Cord