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“It’s the emotional side of fashion that makes it a very different consumable than other packaged goods.” —JULIA MACALASTER ’08

as fashion editors, and Twitter trumps traditional advertising and push-marketing. Without knowing how to produce and market product as they have in the past, fashion companies are scrambling. “The industry is producing 150 billion garments a year for a population of about 2 billion consumers—it’s off balance. The industry seems to be caught in this spiral of overproducing to increase sales.” Enter, Macalaster’s co-venture with industry veterans David Lamer and Karen Fechter. A few years back, standing in line at Starbucks and observing young

consumers actively flipping through their phones, David was inspired to rethink the industry’s model. Macalaster notes, “When David came up with the idea for PreeLine he realized that you have a digitally engaged consumer looking to have an open dialogue with the brands—and brands hungry to learn more about their consumer. On top of this, brands know what they’re placing in stores six to 12 months before it arrives. The idea behind PreeLine is to create a platform that brings together brands and consumers pre-season so that consumers can be the first to see and socialize coming looks and brands can better understand what to buy, where to send it and how to market it.” Lamer envisioned the merchandising side of the company but needed a millennial cofounder to build out the platform in a way that socially engaged the millennial consumer. He and Macalaster teamed up two years ago to execute on their idea. “We always thought that surveys stink. No one likes taking a survey, but people love scrolling through social environments and engaging with brands that they’re loyal to.” With that in mind they built PreeLine to be a social community where members could openly interact with one another and comment on the looks by loving them or hating them. Fashion is different from other consumables, Macalaster explains. “There is a social-emotional interaction we have with fashion where it’s not just our opinion that matters but also the opinion or validation of others. We call it the ‘dressing room test’ where we come out of the dressing room and say, ‘What do you think?’ You’re going to say, ‘Oh, I love it,’ or ‘Eh, hate it!’” Macalaster’s interest in fashion began at Nobles, where her senior project focused on fashion design and its history

with Betsy VanOot as her project advisor. While at Princeton, she continued to focus on fashion, writing her senior thesis on Japanese street fashion and starting her first company, Winship Boxers. “During the summer when I interned at Jack Rogers, I noticed this niche of preppy consumers who shop in location-specific boutiques. When thinking of my first startup, I looked at this niche market and tried to figure out what was there, what was missing, and I realized that there was a big opportunity within the men’s underwear space in the mass premium price point. Think Victoria’s Secret for men.” Her first startup, Winship, was later acquired. At PreeLine, Macalaster, Lamer and Fechter tag and track every interaction. “We have a proprietary predictive algorithm on our back-end that utilizes optimal learning to predict what will sell, where it will sell and who it will sell to. All of our partner brands have access to their own brand portal where they can see and manipulate this data to generate the reports they need to make these key merchandise decisions.” Right now, PreeLine features manybrands, but an evolution will include what Macalaster calls “a white label solution” to allow brands to engage exclusively with their user base. “It would feel like the PreeLine site, but will be for one brand only.” The broader PreeLine site will remain a resource for small to medium size brands and continue to be used to predict macrotrends, she says. “Our vision is to give the industry a tool that they can use to learn from andunderstand their consumers. We want to change the way that the industry is looking at merchandise planning and the preseason production process.” N —HEATHER SULLIVAN FALL 2016 Nobles 37

Profile for Noble and Greenough School

Nobles Fall 2016 Magazine  

Nobles Fall 2016 Magazine