Here at Mediolana, we admit that when it comes to planet-redefining technology-based initiatives, until recently we thought that we had seen it all. From sending a text message to end starvation to twinning your toilet with a counterpart receptacle in the Democratic Republic of Congo via the Internet, the new wave of communications technologies have opened up possibilities for positive social activism that were barely conceptualisable only a few years ago.
However – and after some considered reflection – there is one socially-responsible chasm which is presently systemically unfilled: away from those noble and frankly essential projects which are trying to remedy some of our planet’s most obvious injustices, the everyday world of commerce (and indeed global society as a whole) is still largely unmoved by the broader considerations of sustainability and the consequences of ‘normal’ human behaviour. Arguably the ultimate measure of this – Earth Overshoot Day – happens earlier with each passing year.
So it was with great surprise when we were alerted to the existence of a shopping app which, in its own frankly ingenious way, could make a highly desirable impact on the world of retail – and the world as a whole. Looks Good On Me is an iOS-based application (the Android rollout is forthcoming) which enables a user to create a personalised fashion jury of friends to evaluate prospective textile purchases: take a selfie (or ten) in your proposed garment of choice, and within moments you can receive your jury’s vote and their individual suggestions.
While this may not at first glance appear to be the stuff of transformative change, Looks Good On Me promises to have an effect way beyond its obvious utility in at least five vital ways:
- Efficiency + Resource Consumption. Looks Good On Me enables an intimate kind of shopping that trumps conventional e-commerce: your friends do not have to be present with you in order to give detailed, instant and highly personalised opinions which are simply not available on the likes of Amazon. This type of remote shopping saves a significant amount of two resources in particular – fuel (to get to and from the shopping centre/mall), and time: females spend over 100 hours per year hunting for clothes in some post-developed economies.
- Waste Reduction. Even in these surreal economic times, many of us will know at least one person – usually, though certainly not always a lady – who has a wardrobe positively heaving with expensive clothes she never wears (or perhaps hasn’t even opened the packaging of); simply put, these items represent poor – usually solo – decision-making. Looks Good On Me has the potential to eliminate this phenomenon – and reduce the sometimes wild levels of waste which clothes shopping can generate.
- Customer Satisfaction. The fashion industry has rarely been without its critics, but particularly in the spluttering global economy of the 2000s and 2010s, even many of its most ardent followers are being forced to downsize their lifestyles: the days of going into a retail outlet and putting the entire store on plastic are a distant memory for most non-oligarchs. Purchases now have to be evaluated on their merits, rather than on the temporary high of retail therapy – and Looks Good On Me has arrived not a moment too soon.
- Corporate Social Responsiveness. The advent of Looks Good On Me confirms that clothes retailers everywhere are being confronted with more knowledgable, less impulsive shoppers; in combination with populations in traditionally important markets that are seeing their purchasing power erode, it has arguably never been more imperative for the sector to improve both its direct offerings and intangibles such as customer service. Such developments should end up benefitting the consumer.
- Psychological Wellbeing. Looks Good On Me can ultimately generate a higher level of happiness: women can make better quality, more efficient clothes purchases which they are more satisfied with; shops will have to augment their standards and, in so doing, elevate the fashion sector as a whole; and the overall strain on the Earth’s finite resources, in terms of both transportation and spur-of-the-moment, debt-fuelled zombie splurges, should be tempered that little bit further.
It is projects such as Looks Good On Me which could end up redefining our relationship with shopping and much, much more. Co-founders Matthew Blakemore and (international model) Tatjana Apukhtina are presently overseeing a massive Kickstarter-based funding drive ending on 10th September 2014; if you want to help shape a brighter future, then you know what to do.