When celebrity fashion site WhoWhatWear first went live in 2006, CEO Katherine Power says, everyone thought she and cofounder Hillary Kerr were crazy.
Both former editors from ELLE magazine, Power and Kerr wanted to make it easier to shop the looks they were seeing from celebrities and other fashion-forward figures.
“It stemmed from the idea that we were spending all of our time on the computer, getting all of this up-to-the-minute gossip news about celebrities, but no one was talking about the clothes they were wearing,” Power told Business Insider.
“Fashion magazines will tell you what people are wearing, but you can’t shop a magazine.”
At the beginning, Power and Kerr would produce one new piece of celebrity fashion content each day, which would be sent out in the form of a daily newsletter. Each piece of content included links to looks you could buy in an instant.
At the time, there was no Pinterest, and the startup used MySpace — not Facebook or Twitter — to launch a viral marketing campaign. Though Net-a-Porter was already in operation, there were few other options for online shopping.
“There was no business model to base this off of,” Power said. “Each piece has some kind of call to action to share or buy. You click through to the retailer to purchase an item.”
These days, the 30-person editorial team produces about 150 new pieces a week.
WhoWhatWear’s partners now include a wide range of retailers, from high-end shops like Neiman Marcus and Net-a-Porter to lower-cost sites like ASOS and Shopbop. Many of those partners also advertise on WhoWhatWear.
“We always say our shopper is someone who will splurge on a designer bag every season, but who also mixes their wardrobe with pieces from Zara or H&M,” Power said.
WhoWhatWear is now part of an umbrella company called Clique Media. In 2013, Power and Kerr launched two more sites out of Clique: Byrdie, which focuses on beauty news, and MyDomaine, whose coverage centres on home decor and travel, among other lifestyle topics.
Clique’s Los Angeles headquarters have their own fashion closet and photo studio, where the editorial team works to produce original content.
All three sites have the same model: original editorial content and shoppable collections of items, complete with links out to the retailers where you can buy them. All together, Clique sites get 11.2 monthly unique visitors, with WhoWhatWear getting 3.8 million alone.
Clique announced Thursday that it has raised $US8 million in new venture funding, led by Amazon and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments.
This is only the second time in its nine-year history that the company has raised outside funding. Prior to this most recent round, Clique had raised a total of $US5 million.
“We have a slow and steady approach to business,” Power said. “We’ve managed to grow and become profitable over the years.”
The team has grown to about 95 people in total, based in offices in Los Angeles and New York. They plan to grow to 140 people by the end of the year, and there are plans to open satellite offices in Australia this fall. Offices in the UK, France, and Italy are also in the works.
The influx of cash will also go towards expanding and improving Clique’s commerce platform, with an emphasis on the mobile experience.
Amazon is particularly interesting as an investor. According to a recent note from the analysts at Cowen, Amazon’s apparel business is booming, and it is set to overtake Macy’s as the number one apparel retailer in the US by 2017.
“We could not be happier to be working with them,” Power said. “Their end goal is always making things easier for the consumer. That’s a goal we have, too, and we’re applying that across fashion, beauty, and lifestyle.”
Existing investors Greycroft Partners, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Advancit Capital, Mesa Ventures, and Double M Partners also contributed to the round.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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