By Ashley Davis
Ashley.Davis@nationaljeweler.com
Threads Styling connects its team of personal stylists with shoppers who are largely driven by the company’s social media content. 

London—It doesn’t have an app or a consumer-facing website. 

There are no stores and it doesn’t hold inventory.  

Threads Styling, the personal shopping service conducted through messaging apps, may be the most nimble luxury retailer imaginable, uniquely poised to weather a crisis.  

Founded in London in 2010 by a young fashion buyer, Sophie Hill, who aimed to bring a carefully curated selection of products to shoppers via personal stylists, today Threads is one of the most innovative luxury retail concepts.  

It works differently than ecommerce, making the personal shopping experience a mobile one, tapping into the habits of digitally native shoppers who’d rather text than place a phone call or write an email.  

Seventy percent of its customers are under 35 years old. 

“We create inspiring content across social media channels and chat platforms, and then we connect with our audience and clients through messaging platforms,” like WhatsApp, where the sale is completed, explained Sophie Quy, Threads Styling’s commercial director. 

20200429 Threads Sophie QuyThreads Styling Commercial Director Sophie Quy“We see ourselves as the pioneers of social and chat commerce, a new way of luxury shopping.” 

While in its early days, Threads Styling’s services spread mainly through word-of-mouth, today about half of sales are generated through Instagram and Snapchat, with the latter platform used mainly by Gen Z and Middle Eastern clients.  

U.S. President Samina Virk explained: “Once we’re discovered [on social media] we actually transition all of our client communication over to chat, so WhatsApp and iMessage is how we’re communicating.” 

Once connected on a messaging platform, customers chat with and place orders from a personal stylist, not a bot.  

And unlike some concierge services, personal shoppers are employed full-time with Threads, trained by them as well as brand partners, working out of the company’s London or New York City office.  

The relationship that develops between shopper and client is the crux of Threads’ success.  

Personal shoppers advise on purchases, learn a client’s wardrobe and anticipate her or his needs. Communication is quick and easy for millennial and Gen Z customers, who are accustomed to texting.  

Since introducing the fine jewelry category in 2017, Threads now counts 100 fine jewelry brands among its 400 brand partners and won a Gem Award in 2019 for Retail Excellence

Due to its extensive network, if a client wants something from a brand Threads doesn’t already work with, Threads usually can source it. Clients act as Threads’ main source of referrals for new brand business. 

The nature of the stylist-client relationship has allowed the company to grow along with its customer base. 

As its older clients began having children and purchasing homes, Threads branched out into children’s wear and interiors, launching a separate Instagram account for the latter. 

“Everything [a client] says, we really listen to,” said Quy.  

Recently, in a move that proved particularly prescient due to the global pandemic that forced shoppers to quarantine at home, Threads launched a separate athleisure and streetwear Instagram account called ThreadsGen, appealing to a younger, trendier customer.  

 

Shopping in the Time of COVID-19 
No retail business is immune to the effects of the global pandemic shutdown, but Threads is able to navigate it better than most.  

“It definitely has impacted the business,” Quy noted. “We’re lucky because the client journey hasn’t been impacted.” 

Ordinarily, Threads shoots its social media content in its three in-house studios in the London office, but with its teams working from home they’ve had to get creative. 

“One of the first things we did was to ask our clients and our community on social media what content they wanted to see when we all suddenly found ourselves at home,” Quy said. 

The answer was content that is “more authentic, a little bit more raw.” 

“Our stylists and shoppers are already used to making content and sending it to their clients,” U.S. President Virk said, “so we were able to transition our content to follow that format.” 

That means stylists showcasing what they’re wearing in quarantine on the Instagram feed, mixing sweats from the new ThreadsGen launch with designer handbags and fine jewelry.   

“We’ve been able to carry on speaking to our clients in the way we always have,” said Quy. “[We’re] communicating to our audience, to our clients how we’re getting through it, sharing what we’re wearing, how we’re styling our jewelry with our loungewear while we’re at home all day.” 

It’s provided an opportunity to get up close and personal with designers too.  

Foundrae’s Beth Bugdaycay hosted Threads’ first Instagram Live to showcase her pieces, followed by the mother-daughter duo behind Shay Jewelry.  

“People are looking for meaningful pieces,” Quy noted.  

They’re also looking for fun and Threads Styling is supplying an abundance of lighthearted shopping content, as it always has.  

The Next Direction 
Threads has its eye on new markets, catering to a growing Asian clientele, who are already comfortable with shopping via chat courtesy of Chinese app WeChat that acts as a social feed, messenger and payment app all in one and that boasts more than 1 billion users. 

Threads is also expanding its American presence.  

20200429 Threads Samina VirkU.S. President Samina Virk Virk came on board as Threads’ U.S. president last year with two decades of fashion, ecommerce and retail experience under her belt. Among her career accomplishments are launching Vestiaire Collective in the U.S. market and eBay’s fashion vertical.  

Last year, Virk reopened the New York sales office. 

Threads also will continue its fast ascent in fine jewelry. Quy joined Threads Styling in 2018, a year after Threads introduced the category.  

She made her mark bridging the once-perceived gap between fine jewelry and online selling, previously heading fine jewelry buying at Net-a-Porter, where she brought on board fashion-forward independent brands as well as major jewelry houses like Tiffany. 

“Jewelry is a huge part of our business,” said Quy. “We’ve seen absolutely incredible growth, so for us that’s a key part of our strategy. 

“We’ve become known as a platform for finding jewels and because of our business model we are able to launch brands fairly quickly and get behind it and push the brand to our clients and the wider community.” 

Just as she did at Net-a-Porter, Quy also is creating partnerships at Threads with major jewelry houses such as Boucheron, Bulgari and Tiffany.  

And though athleisure is hot, she predicts the luxury consumer will be ready to break out her or his very best clothes and accessories when quarantine is over. 

“We’re still selling incredible partywear and fine jewelry and handbags, so I think people definitely have one eye on the future and getting back to normal,” she said.   





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