The Interview: Bianca Rangecroft, Founder of Whering
Whering, an app designed to allow users to easily digitise their entire wardrobe, resulting in a streamlined, curatable and accessible online styling tool, was officially unveiled to the public last week.
Think online shopping except users don’t need to buy anything. Users can also receive styling suggestions and personalised product recommendations that complement and complete the pieces they already know and love.
TheIndustry.fashion caught up with ex-banker and Founder Bianca Rangecroft to talk about herself, launching the new business, sustainability, technology and the future:
Before we look at Whering, tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get to where you are today?
My background is totally unrelated to fashion – I studied History and Politics at SOAS & LSE, then moved into the business world after doing my Masters at Imperial (Economics & Management).
I then spent the first couple of years of my career in Banking (Consumer and Investment Management Division at Goldman Sachs) – and that was my first point of contact with the fabulous world of fashion believe it or not. I was privileged to work on the Stichfix & Farfetch IPOs and in doing so spent a lot of time doing due diligence on the fashtech sector.
I founded Whering in June 2020 to fundamentally change the way we interact with our clothes. For me the system was broken; the vicious cycle of not being able to see what you own, impulse buying and the lack of inspiration in the styling process meant only one thing, we had to take it digital and harness the power of machine learning to hyper-personalise our fashion experience.
What is Whering all about? With a host of sustainability-focused developments in the fashion industry in the last few years, what makes Whering different?
For me the ‘I have nothing to wear’ dilemma felt universal and that sensation of being trapped in indecision only too familiar. In our view, part of the problem isn’t having nothing to wear, but having nothing new to wear. We keep buying because we think that just one more item will unlock our ideal wardrobe – but how can it if we have no accessible inventory of what we own?
This is why having a digital inventory is so key - to aid our visual memory. Not only does it allow you to ‘shop your own wardrobe’ to get that newness fix, but having an organised digital wardrobe helps you identify what you really need and what pieces can unlock a myriad of combinations.
You can also easily track wears, most worn items, what’s worth donating or selling, but mostly importantly - create different versions of your best looks.
We created Whering for recovering lifestyle hypocrites like us: millennial women who are excited to take back ownership of their fashion consumption and the way they dress.
The business only officially launched last week, but there’s definitely been a lot of work behind the scenes from the initial idea to launch, can you talk us through that?
We’ve worked tirelessly since our incorporation in June 2020 – and what a journey it’s been! We were super keen to get our MVP (minimal viable product) out at the end of August 2020 to get testing and make sure we were building something our Wherers actually wanted.
We’ve been through some amazing accelerators too and started building a private community in the fall of 2020 gearing up to our 2021 official launch.
Operating a free service and a subscription service; can you talk us through the business aspects of offering two versions of Whering? Does the subscription service financially support the free service?
Exactly. Having a ‘Whering Essentials’ digital wardrobe is free and will always be free (we’re all about democratising the access to personal styling)- and these features are the tools to create unlimited outfits, view everything you own in the palm of your hand and use our signature Dress Me function to get styled when you’re rushing out of the door.
We’ve just added a ‘Whering VIP’ paid membership which will include extra features to step up every modern woman’s outfit game including a calendar and weather integration for us busy gals, a Moodboard and a Wishlist feature.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your business plans for Whering?
It’s been strangely wonderful yet limiting at the same time for us. On the one hand we’ve seen so many amazing Wherers take this downtime to digitise and get their wardrobes organised (which will serve them in the long run).
We’ve seen overwhelming demand for outfit inspiration during these WFH times where women like us really needed a pick me up and motivation to get dressed and feel alive again.
On the flip side, the roll out of our signature White Glove Service (one off cost) has been delayed and has been really unfortunate for all of the Premium ladies who were very excited about the service and ‘wardrobe revamp’ it comes with.
Sustainability! The key word on everyone’s lips! What does Whering do to help create a sustainable tomorrow in the fashion industry?
Our mission is to extend the lifecycle of the clothes lying idle in our physical wardrobes. We’re looking to drastically reduce the carbon and water footprint of consumers by focusing on the two parts of the value chain that they control: purchasing and utilisation. By allowing our users to digitise their wardrobe, they are able to track their wears, their most worn items, recreate different versions of their looks and become true outfit repeaters.
Our next move is to create an impact dashboard for our Wherers, to empower them to understand the impact of purchasing decisions and the beauty of offsetting certain behaviours with more conscious ones.
We’re also onboarding a network of green dry-cleaners, donation points and repurposing services across the UK to make repurposing, mending and donating a little more intuitive.
What do you do to help those who don’t know how to style their wardrobe? Are there in-house stylists offering advice?
We’re using machine learning to offer tailored styling suggestions that enable you to view your wardrobe entirely differently, receive outfits ideas you’d never have thought of and get that jolt of novelty not dissimilar from buying something new.
We also help you identify what you really need and what pieces can unlock combinations you had no idea existed.
Whering also helps people fill in the missing items for their wardrobe – how do you decide which brands feature on the app and are presented to users for purchase?
Wherers take the onboarding style quiz as they download the app to determine their style and give us clues as to what they actually wear when they create and use outfits made on Whering. These two components help inform what we show them both in terms of specific missing pieces.
Are you actively seeking new brands and designers to offer their pieces on Whering?
Yes absolutely! We’re already finalising some partnerships and have onboarded the wonderful Rotaro and their resale/rental pieces. But building this out is very much our focus for the next two months.
We’re looking to hyper personalise the shopping experience for our Wherers – so we’re currently working on vetting a list of brands to partner with. We’ll be announcing some exciting additions soon.
And finally – the future! You’ve just launched but where next, if anything?
We’re definitely the new kid on the block – but we’ve moved super fast – and plan to continue doing so in 2021. Next big thing on our agenda is taking the app social.
This would allow our Wherers to open up their closets to their friends, strategise on what the ‘collective’ will be wearing on their next outing, share outfits when they travel and swap things they no longer want.
For us, creating a space where our users can engage, comment and purchase others’ items is key to a truly experiential product.