This article was published on May 20, 2013

500 Startups-backed Monogram pivots from a fashion shopping app to an e-commerce magazine

500 Startups-backed Monogram pivots from a fashion shopping app to an e-commerce magazine
Ken Yeung
Story by

Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a reporter for The Next Web based in San Francisco, CA. He carries around a big camera & likes to write about tech, startup Ken Yeung is a reporter for The Next Web based in San Francisco, CA. He carries around a big camera & likes to write about tech, startups, parties, and interesting people. Follow him on Twitter, on Facebook, and Google+.

Monogram, a fashion shopping application, released an update that expands its Web focus. Today, the company is now a fashion publishing platform with an e-commerce play. With more than 300 retailers integrated into its site, users are able to browse through a collection of “shoppable” fashion magazines, while also being able to share and discover their own stories and inspirations.

An alumnus of 500 Startups’ fourth batch, Monogram was initially focused on being a personalized shopper for iPad owners. It browses through numerous sources to help users discover new items that are not only on sale, but fit their style. The company states that 87 percent of iPad owners shop on the device, spending an average of 30 percent more than the average Web shopper — Monogram seeks to capitalize on this by making the process a lot easier and personal.

Snap 2013-05-18 at 22.23.40

Akin to what you might find using Flipboard, users can navigate through pre-established magazines to glean inspiration or to see clothes based on various themes. If none of the current publications are to their fancy, users can start their own, controlling what it’s called, the description, and who the magazine is primarily geared towards. However, at this point, it lacks the aesthetic appeal that Flipboard has, specifically the “flip” motion and true magazine-like interactions.

Snap 2013-05-18 at 22.56.05

Monogram doesn’t control 100 percent of the content in its magazines. Rather, it’s community-driven, meaning that anyone can contribute ideas, photos, and content to someone’s publication. All items can either be liked or reposted to their own news feed, which contributes to the service’s new Pinterest-like experience.

Where the e-commerce part comes in is when a user clicks on an article and scrolls down to the bottom where products are featured. Monogram will display the item along with an overview. Users can then click the “Buy This” button and be transported to the manufacturer’s page where they will be able to buy the item there. No actual transactions are handled on the Monogram site. Items liked by users can be also be reposted and liked, while also shared on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Snap 2013-05-18 at 23.25.10

Company CEO Leo Chen tells us that the impetus for this new version of Monogram came following the development of internal tools that enabled the team to create shoppable articles. After a month of speaking with users, fashion designers, and bloggers, he realized that the market needed to have a service that would “simplify their content creation process: searching for products to recommend and driving readership.” Several weeks after that, Monogram was rebuilt from scratch to now be a publishing platform and a fashion community, complete with an e-commerce platform.

While content is still being curated, one thing that’s of interest is the fact that Monogram doesn’t allow users to sort magazines by interest or by gender. In our initial review, all the magazines shown appear to appeal to females, although male-targeted ones could be created.

Monogram has raised $1.25 million in funding from US and Chinese investors, such as Quest Venture Partners, Great Oaks VC, Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian, Innovation Camp, Rapportive CEO Rahul Vohra,’s Brian Ma, and more.

The updated version of Monogram is now available as a responsive website. The native iOS apps have also been modified and released for users to download and try out.

➤ Monogram | Web | iOS

Photo credit: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images

Disclosure: This article contains an affiliate link. While we only ever write about products we think deserve to be on the pages of our site, The Next Web may earn a small commission if you click through and buy the product in question. For more information, please see our Terms of Service.

Get the TNW newsletter

Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.