Startup nations | Israel very stylish when technology and fashion mix

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“Fashion technology” is the term used for the intersection of fashion and high-tech, and the areas it covers are wide-ranging: Shopping, merchandising, garment designing, altering, swapping and manufacturing are just the tip of the iceberg.

For instance, a software program that can create faster and more innovative ways to make clothing purchases.

Worldwide, there are more than 500 fashion technology startups, and no one will be surprised to learn the industry is sizzling in the Holy Land. Israel is emerging as a competitive base for entrepreneurs to enter the global fashion world traditionally centered in New York, London and Paris.

The Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, located in Tel Aviv, was recently rated by Fashionista.com as one of the top 10 fashion schools in the world. Combined with Israel’s startup infrastructure, Israeli fashion-tech entrepreneurs are ready to shape the future of style.

Recognizing this boom, the Israeli Economic Mission to the West Coast for the first time has invited Israeli fashion-tech companies to the United States to explore opportunities and meet potential partners. We have chosen companies (some well established in the U.S.) that operate in specific fashion-tech sectors: online retail, virtual fitting, styling platforms, e-commerce platforms and 3-D technology.

A delegation of 10 Israeli fashion-tech companies will meet with CEOs from top brands, retailers, innovation teams and investors from Dec. 5 to 8 — spending two days in San Francisco and one day in Los Angeles.

They will showcase their innovative technologies to the fashion and e-commerce world. Some of their solutions include smart measurements (which ensure a garment will fit the buyer, thus reducing the amount of items that get returned) and social media plug-ins (to increase engagement between clients and brands).

Here’s a quick look at some of the companies that will be involved.

Zeekit. With clients such as Amazon and Rebecca Minkoff, Zeekit (www.zeekit.co) enables customers to see how an item looks on them, get personalized size suggestions and share their new looks with friends.

Sizer. Whether the customer is in-store or online, Sizer (www.sizer.me) lets fashion retailers provide customers with a personalized shopping experience, ensuring shoppers know which size will fit and flatter them. Clients include Converse, Samsung and Uniqlo.

WiShi. By using WiShi (www.wishi.me), shoppers can share their real closets online and get styled by their community. Here’s how the technology works: A user snaps a photo of clothing, shoes or accessories, then shape and color recognition filters improve the images, which are then posted in the user’s online closet.

Aware Solutions. Companies can use technology from Aware Solutions (www.awearsolutions.com) to engage and mobilize their consumers, and find new ones, as well as reward them for being “brand ambassadors.” Consumers can join a frequent-buyer program, which gets them incentivized to wear specific products in order to earn VIP experiences, perks and promotions. The company, meanwhile, gets post-sale analytics on product usage.

 

Startup of the month

 

Wannabiz. A social marketing app for small businesses, Wannabiz (www1.wannabiz.com) covers small business marketing needs by providing exposure across Facebook, Twitter, websites, email, advertising and more. The Tel Aviv-based company, with offices in Long Island City, New York, raised $2.2 million in 2014. The app, available in both iOS and Android formats, is billed as “a free marketing consultant in your pocket.”

 

Exit of the month

 

FireLayers. Proofpoint, a U.S.-based cybersecurity company, has acquired Israel-based FireLayers (www.firelayers.com) for a reported $55 million. FireLayers enables companies to integrate cloud computing in an environment of security, compliance, visibility and control. In announcing the deal on Oct. 20, Proofpoint CEO Gary Steele said, “Also, as part of today’s news, we are pleased to expand our global cybersecurity presence in [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] with a new office location in Israel.” FireLayers has offices in Herzliya and San Francisco.

Gili Ovadia is the S.F.-based Israeli consul for economic affairs to the West Coast.