MILAN — A new fashion tech tool is promising to make the life of fashion professionals much easier, combining functions usually split across different software in a single platform. It has already helped to put together Hunter Schafer’s Vanity Fair Oscar Party outfit, among other fashion moments.
Called Sève and introduced late last year on an invitation-only basis, the platform, accessible for free via browsers on desktop and mobile, was launched by HEC Paris business school pals Julia Sisto and Joshua Kelly.
The pair put their backgrounds to good use. Sisto, formerly employed at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Diane von Furstenberg, and Bergdorf Goodman, was most recently the right-hand woman to Olivia Palermo, experiencing firsthand the hurdles in keeping track of clothing samples and the social personality’s “constantly evolving wardrobe.”
Kelly pitched in with his background in tech geared at process-heavy industries such as business administration, pharmaceuticals and clinical trials.
Sève helps image-makers track sample requests, approvals and check-ins; collaborate with their team; and export PDFs of confirmed looks and final credit sheets all from one centralized board.
“I was lacking a tool to centralize all the information,” said Sisto, recalling her experience with Palermo. “It feels like that a lot of stylists are swimming in a sea of screenshots and trying to make sense of all the clothing that they have coming in… [with tools that are] just not adapted to their workflow,” she added.
Joining forces in 2020, Kelly and Sisto started interviewing stylists from across the globe who would then beta-test the platform.
“The overarching sentiment was that, yes, this is a creative job, but half of their job, especially for assistants, is administrative and it’s a huge logistics job,” Kelly explained. “It sometimes entails reaching out to 50 to 100 brands for one shoot or event or press tour,” he said.
“We were lucky to have some really very involved beta testers who gave us a lot of feedback,” he offered. “I mean the app is really made by them,” Sisto added.
Leveraging a clean and straightforward interface, the platform allows stylist users to create new projects and workboards for each of their celebrity styling jobs or editorial shoots, fill in a form with all relevant information, including client, location and collaborators, and add documents such as call sheets and moldboards.
Once created, the workboard is ready to be filled with fashion selections and screen grabs, which can be organized via another fill-in form, adding brand, category tags (these can be manually created but an API tool is to be implemented for automatic recognition of clothing categories), request status and press contacts.
The two young entrepreneurs claimed the game-changing aspect of the platform sits in the ability to sort all records by multiple filters, offering stylists quick and useful glances on the workflow.
Any workboard configuration can be exported into a clean PDF, making it easy for sharing with press representatives and any other professionals involved in the job.
“Sève has totally transformed the way I work and communicate with my assistants, clients and collaborators. It’s a super functional tool which helps massively with the organization of my work and it’s so much more visual than a spreadsheet,” said celebrity stylist Karen Clarkson, one of the early adopters. “I can see exactly how my prep is evolving in real time and that allows me to be more focused creatively. It’s really made my life so much easier.”
“This is life changing for us stylists: you can organize all your projects/requests in one place,” echoed Amandha Gaio, a New York-based fashion stylist and coordinator working with publications such as Vogue, Elle, Glamour and Forbes.
Originally a self-financed project, Sève has been recruited through the HEC Paris incubator at Station F, a campus for start-up incubation in Paris. Investors were intrigued by the concept, Kelly and Sisto said, while keeping more details on a potential investment under wraps.
“Fundraising is in the process; there will hopefully be some exciting news on that front soon,” Sisto said.
The platform currently counts almost 170 stylists signed up and actively using the tool, including Elizabeth Saltzman, Tom Eerebout, Clarkson, and Rachael Wang. It gained popularity among celebrity image makers first, but editorial stylists have increasingly been adopting it.
“We’re seeing a lot of organic invitations… and assistants have been key in sharing word of mouth,” Kelly said. “They work one week with one stylist and the following week with another one and that’s amazing because they’re bringing the tool with them,” Sisto added.