FashionPlaytes, is a teen fashion site and a virtual design studio for girls just defining their personal style. A user chooses a basic garment, adds “embellishments” like custom labels, ribbons, and patterns and then orders their haute couture creation online.
The design-it-yourself clothing etailer targets tweens, girls ages 5 through 12, a user base that has created nearly 200,000 unique garments on the site since its launch last fall.
Since its founding in 2009, the company has raised a total of $5.8 million. It's also become much savvier about reaching out to tweens and working with brands beloved by that demographic.
Its partners include San Francisco-based Sanrio Inc., the creators of the Hello Kitty brand. It's also bringing the FashionPlaytes brand to the mall, via a series of kiosks in its top retail stores nationwide.
The site offers two million plus design and color options for T-shirts, dresses, skirts, pants, headbands, jackets, belts, and handbags. Using a virtual sketchpad, a design is saved in an online portfolio, shared with friends and family, and then made available for purchase, fulfillment and shipping.
Personalized fashion sites are hot these days, as StyleCaster, MyShape, Polyvore, and StyleFeeder, recently purchased by Time Inc., have attracted interest from investors.
Sarah McIlroy, Founder and CEO of Fashion Playtes comments, "As a young girl I designed most of my clothing and was fortunate to have a very talented mother who could sew. She made me beautiful custom outfits. I recall the pride and satisfaction of creating something that was exclusively mine. My 7-year-old daughter is now designing clothes and I feel there is an opportunity to bring this concept to a broad market."
To help build engagement, the site has added features including a Wall of Fame contest that lets girls to create their own clothing brand with personalized labels; and a partnership with SecretBuilders that lets users create a virtual world where they “build” a house, play games, design clothes, and chat with others.
"Fashion Playtes' mass customization strategy brings the power of social networks, multiplayer games, and modern custom manufacturing to the $11B+ tween apparel market," comments Scott Johnson of New Atlantic Ventures, one of the key angel investors.
The red-carpet just got virtually younger (and no doubt sparklier) by a generation for whom haute couture can start as early as age 5.