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Born in Lebanon, and now headquartered in the USA, Lemonade Fashion has just scored pre-seed funding to help develop its unique bespoke fashion offering. We talk to CEO Arthur Bizdikian to find out how they got ready for investment and what’s next for the team.
“I hated shopping because nothing would fit me, and if it did then it was too expensive or not the design that I was looking for. Online shopping was even worse because it was always a gamble,” says Arthur Bizdikian, Co-Founder and CEO of Lemonade Fashion. His broad shoulders and muscular thighs made finding the right fit a nightmare, especially when it came to formalwear. “That’s why most of my clothes, especially my suits, were custom-made, but that took too much time, and would’ve been too expensive if I had gone to a brand rather than urban and up-and-coming designers. That’s why Lemonade Fashion was born, an online marketplace for custom-made and made-to-measure labels.”
In a time when many people across the world are putting off luxury purchases, and dressing well is the least of our priorities as we enter day 100andsomething of working-from-home, Lemonade Fashion’s executive team managed to prove the need for a service like theirs, scoring a pre-seed investment from Draper University Ventures. Graduating from the university’s’ Hero Training programme that educates budding entrepreneurs in a five-week intensive course in the heart of Silicon Valley, that culminates with a chance to pitch your startup to venture capitalists and secure funding. And that’s exactly what Bizdikian and his co-founders did. “We gained their confidence by fully participating and committing to all of the activities, although some of them were uncomfortable and weird, like selling condoms to strangers on the streets of San Francisco,” he explains. “We rehearsed the pitch, took notes from our mentors, adapted the pitch and kept on practicing.”
“Lemonade Fashion enables designers from around the world to have access to new markets, leverage new technologies including AI-based measurements, and connect with clients who need to feel unique in custom-made outfits, making the fit a problem of the past,” says Bizdikian about their stylish, tech-enabled platform. Curating looks from up-and-coming, unique designers from across the world, Lemonade Fashion turns what’s usually a lengthy process into an easy, contactless and quick one. “The platform offers a curated selection of rural and contemporary collections from around the world, customisation features, made-to-measure technology for a perfect fit, fast production and delivery - less than 2 weeks for custom-made outfits - and smart pricing. Technology sits at the heart of Lemonade Fashion.”
In 2019, the fashion e-commerce sector in the MENA region was valued at around $2 billion, despite only 2% of all retail transactions in the region taking place online. Though there is clearly space for the online fashion retail industry to grow, the sudden closure of luxury modest fashion e-commerce giant The Modist at the start of the global pandemic has certainly shaken confidence in the sector. Nevertheless, the Lemonade Fashion team’s agility and unique selling points seem to negate any lack of faith.
Though COVID-19 has taken a toll on almost every industry, the Lemonade Fashion team saw it as an opportunity to empower designers and offer them more opportunities to interact with potential customers on a platform with global reach and that celebrates diversity in the cut-throat fashion world. “Before COVID, Lemonade Fashion operated as a curated marketplace, which means that we select the designers and curate the items, handle the photoshoot and product placement. In addition, we gave each designer a designer page,” explains Bizdkian. “[Now] more and more designers are reaching out to be part of the platform to be able to sell their items online. We had to add a kind of Shopify-for-designers model, where we give designers their own private pages where they can upload their own items to be able sell worldwide.”
With Silicon Valley backing, a growing uptake in global design and made-to-measure fashion and a team that have been conditioned to adapt, Lemonade Fashion is likely a name we’ll be hearing a lot of in the near future. “The investment will be used to hire new talent to join the team, support a greater number of designers around the world, launch new features on the platform and invest heavily on marketing,” adds Bizdikian.
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