Marie Claire, Instyle and Look publisher Time Inc UK has invested in London-based visual search engine Snap Fashion as it explores the ecommerce opportunities of its magazine brands.
Snap Fashion technology allows consumers to search, browse and purchase fashion items that are inspired by photos they’ve found online or taken on mobiles. Jenny Griffiths, who founded Snap Fashion in July 2011, was one of last year’s Drapers 30 Under 30.
Time Inc, which was known as IPC Media until September last year, has become a minority shareholder for an undisclosed amount and aims to use the technology to make its magazine and online content shoppable.
“With Marie Claire, InStyle and Look, our fashion content is renowned, and this investment helps us to extend our relationship with fashion-loving audiences,” said Time Inc UK chief executive Marcus Rich.
“This investment will deliver strategic benefits to our portfolio and reinforces our focus on the 16- to 34-year-old audience as a key group for our growth.”
Following the investment, Time Inc’s digital director Neil Robinson will take a seat on the Snap Fashion board. He said the investment will help “transform the ecommerce capabilities of our fashion brands”.
“We have been hugely impressed by Jenny Griffiths and the opportunities we have to take Snap Fashion into new retail sectors and services for advertisers,” he added.
Griffiths explained that the deal follows a successful trial with Instyle last year.
“Visual search as a whole is on the up as everyone now carries a smartphone with a camera in their pockets,” she said. “We can shop 24/7 online and every retailer now has a website so there needs to be a way to curate fashion to make it easier for consumers.”
Snap employs nine people at its head office in Euston in London. It plans to expand to a head count of 20 people by the end of the year and is recruiting software engineers as well as fashion specialists to manage affiliate relationships and social media.
The company launched its own affiliate website, which sells products from more than 250 brands and retailers including Topshop, Net-a-Porter and Selfridges, in 2012. In 2014, it launched a website called Westfield Edit Me in partnership with Westfield shopping centres as a pre-planning tool for consumers.
“It is business as usual for us following the deal, and we will continue to work with other brands, retailers and publishers to make online shopping easier.”
The move comes as Vogue and GQ publisher Condé Nast is set to enter the luxury etail market with the relaunch of its fashion platform Style.com.