Simone Somekh

Fash&Tech, geeks and fashionistas come together in Tel Aviv

Israelis have never been much on high fashion, but five home-grown fashion tech companies are trying to change that
Entrepreneurs gather at the Google campus in Tel Aviv. (Anna Morein)
Entrepreneurs gather at the Google campus in Tel Aviv. (Anna Morein)

Five fashion start-ups were presented last week at Google Campusanna-morein1

Like a fish that does not feel the water in which it swims, I was raised in Italy without realizing how classy and fashionable my country is. Only when I moved to Boston and then to Tel Aviv, I started putting everything into perspective. Suddenly, I saw girls wearing pajama pants and sweatshirts in school. I saw salesmen wearing Crocs.

I’d never call myself a fashion lover. Truth is – I’m not. But sometimes I realize that fashion is intrinsically part of my culture. I eat pasta, I talk with my hands, I drink espresso shots, and… yes,  I also wear electric blue, skinny jeans.

As a student, radio broadcaster and freelance journalist currently living in the center of Israel, I constantly seek out creativity, innovation, and growth. Evolution is the air that I need to breathe in order to survive and I am always looking for people and events that can give me that feeling.

Last week, I was invited to attend a Fash&Tech Pitch Night at the Google Campus. Fash&Tech is an Israeli project that focuses on the development of fashion within the rising technological environment. During the pitch night, five Israeli start-ups dealing with these two fascinating fields were to be presented.

The stunning Yael Kochman from Roojoom opened the night, welcoming the audience. She explained how she had co-started the project in 2013. Potential investors, journalists, geeks, and, of course, fashion victims filled the Events Zone on the 26th floor of the Electra tower at the Google Campus in Tel Aviv, ready to be inspired by the creativity of the entrepreneurs presenting their start-ups.

It takes guts to start such original and refreshing businesses, especially when there is no certainty that your vision is going to be understood or accepted by the potential investors. That’s why I was looking forward to meeting some of these young entrepreneurs; those who believed in their ideas and were working to bring their dreams to life.

The five start-ups – Zeekit, Fashioholic, RighTune, Snapget, and Stylit — were pitched in front of seven renowned judges, such as Yaniv Tross, who claims that “Israel is not the best country when it comes to fashion, but it has chutzpah”, a possible winning ingredient for the fashion business.

Over the course of the pitch night, ideas like Zeekit (a plug-in that allows you to virtually try on clothes while online shopping) and RighTune (a music player that provides a more engaging online shopping experience) were presented.

I was immediately impressed with Fashioholic: “Fashion and games are addictive”, explained Amit Manna, co-founder of the start-up. Since 43% of the consumers’ time on mobile is spent playing games, the idea is to engage them with fashion games that will finally improve the shopping experience – both for the consumer and the retailer. Amit showed us how the “Fashion Eye” game works: the players have to prove their eye for fashion by guessing the price of the shown items. If the guess is right, the player gets points; if it’s wrong, and the price of the item turns out to be cheaper than expected, this will induce the player to consider buying it. On the contrary, if people think that an item is particularly expensive and instead it’s not, then the brand can take advantage by increasing the price.

It is no wonder that Fashioholic was voted by the judges as one of the two winners.

The other winner of the night was SnapGet, which was the crowd’s favorite. When consumers see a piece of clothing they like while walking around the streets, they can snap a quick picture of it and immediately get similar results in a personalized online store. The products that appear are also sponsored ads, meaning SnapGet is a winning solution in all senses. “We turn every image into a purchase opportunity; we close the gap between what you see & like and what you get”, wisely preached the co-founder of the start-up.

The environment got warmer as soon as two beautiful ladies from Stylit took over the Event Zone and showed their unique project. Maya Kramer, together with a co-worker, presented the brand new personal styling machine that has already partnered with Macy’s and Banana Republic. Stylit is the perfect example of what happens when computer geeks and fashion experts come together. It’s been so successful so far that it has recently even presented a project connected to Beyoncé’s new visual album (which was praised by the Beyoncé team, too!).

I may not be a fashion victim yet, but I am definitely able to appreciate the value of creativity and innovation. During the Fash&Tech pitch night at Google Campus, I saw both. Moreover, I was shown that high class fashion also exists in Israel, the land of falafel and shwarma. Yes, I had to climb up to the 26th floor of Electra Tower in Tel Aviv, but I finally found it.

[Photo by Anna Morein Photography. Visit her Facebook Page here]

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About the Author
Born and raised in Italy, Simone Somekh studies at Bar-Ilan University and works as a freelance writer. His works have been published in The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, Wired Italy, and more.
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