Kiwi start-up targets men's issue with shopping

The Wear It team decided to use the difference in male and female retail behaviour to create a solution (Supplied)
The Wear It team decided to use the difference in male and female retail behaviour to create a solution (Supplied)

For many blokes, a day out shopping isn't that much fun - a 2013 study of 2000 Britons revealed men get bored after just 26 minutes, while women can last two hours.

For Kiwi guys who hate the thought of clothes shopping and aren't confident in their fashion sense, there may be an easy solution.

Liam Houlahan noticed he wasn't alone in his aversion to clothes shopping, and many of his friends had partners who would help them.

"They would shop for them and help them shop, and that's what got me thinking – how those two could come together."

The 25-year-old, who has a background in software, decided to use the difference in male and female retail behaviour to create a solution.

It's called Wear It, a site which allows girls to shop for guys.

Men can create a profile detailing their name, age, a photo and an indication of what clothes they are after. Women create an account and choose a man they wish to style based on their profile.

Women then choose an outfit for the man by selecting one item from each category, and send the suggestions to him with a message. The man choses whether to act on her advice and can buy the items either online or in stores.

The aim is to create a personalised and care-free shopping experience for men, but there's perks for women too.

"When the girls go online, for starters they get to shop, and the second thing is when they use the service, they get to build up their profile as a stylist, if you like, and they can earn rewards from there to shop for themselves," says Mr Houlahan.

Founder Liam Houlahan went through a makeover himself (Supplied)

Wear It began a year ago, and quickly attracted 1000 Kiwis with the initial website. It now has more than 7000 people, with the largest interest coming from 16- to 25-year-olds.

"You've got your teenagers who are 16, and starting to go to parties, then your uni students and then young professionals, so we're focusing on that group initially," says Mr Houlahan.

One of those young professionals is 27-year-old software developer Justin Soong, who created an account after seeing a friend share the site on Facebook. He was given "recommendations within hours", and has bought clothes on two occasions as a result.

Mr Soong, who's single, says he values female opinion because, "half the time you dress for the opposite sex anyway". He says the site provides a convenient way of getting advice from women with better fashion advice.

"It's just one less thing to think about, someone does it for me," he says.

"The biggest thing for us, aside from guys hate shopping and girls like shopping, is to provide a really, really personalised clothes shopping service for guys," says Mr Houlahan.

About one in five will purchase something after it has been suggested on Wear It, and this is mostly done in stores.

Brands featured on the site include Hallensteins and Topshop Man.

Wear It may be capitalising on stereotypes – not all men hate shopping – but Mr Houlahan isn't worried.

"Another way you can look at it is [that] you've got two groups here. One of them are the opinion leaders, so the girls who know fashion, they keep up with it, and on the other side you've got the consumers, the guys that need to buy clothes but don't enjoy the current process and services that are out there."

Those current processes are changing with the growth of online shopping, he says, and the competition is a positive change.

"I think traditionally in New Zealand for guys we don't have a lot of range, and I think that's a big part of why guys aren't dressing as well as what they could, so with competition it's a really good thing."

Wear It will be launching a new site in New Zealand before looking to tap into overseas markets, most likely the United States.

There will also be a Wear It app available soon.

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