The Brazilian fashion social network Fashion.me is giving its international expansion a push, with the official announcement of its US launch. Last February, the startup had received an undisclosed amount of investment from Intel Capital to finance its growth.
While the news was only made public today, the English version of Fashion.me’s platform has been online since the beginning of May – according to its CEO Flavio Pripas, the company opted for a soft launch, as it is still keen to gather feedback and see how users react to its new positioning.
As some of you may remember, Fashion.me actually started as a joke in 2008 – or rather, a fun present from Pripas and his co-founder Renato Steinberg to their wives, Marcela and Karen. This is also the reason why the fashion-oriented site was initially named ByMK, until its recent rebranding.
At the time, the focus on user-generated content was born out of necessity, but it also proved to be a rewarding bet, as the platform soon managed to get traction among Brazilian fashion addicts. In April 2009, its founders had to make a decision: should they give up their hobby or fully dedicate themselves to building it?
The rest is history, and Fashion.me progressively turned into a very serious business; it currently has 1 million monthly users in Brazil, and now hopes to attract a similar number of international users over the next two quarters.
Despite the fact that it hasn’t actively promoted its service abroad yet, Fashion.me already saw 15,000 US users sign up for its service over the last few weeks, 60% of which have already returned to the site.
However, the Fashion.me they are accessing has considerably evolved compared to early days’ ByMK. For a long time, Pripas says, the team was heavily focusing on building tools, while missing what he now sees as the full picture, which is that its users need is a place where they can have in-depth conversations about fashion.
In other words, Fashion.me now markets itself as a vertical social network, of which tools such as style sharing and photo galleries are only one element. As a matter of fact, the startup will soon release an API which will let anyone create apps for its users, reinforcing its position as an englobing platform.
At the same time, Fashion.me is also starting to reach out to American users. As a PR stunt, it has recently decided to invite the two New York-based bloggers behind Brooklynblonde.com and EatSleepWear to attend São Paulo Fashion Week (SPFW) and write about their experience. As for the business side, Fashion.me already has a staff member in New York, and is planning to open an office in the US in the near future.