Member Spotlight | Lustr

Member Spotlight | Lustr

Angela Liang | CEO at Lustr

Get to know one of the latest additions to the CTF fam - Lustr. The fashion-tech startup matches shoppers to independent labels that suit their style and values and offers a platform for pre-ordering their upcoming collections. In line with their launch this November, we caught up with their CEO Angela!

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HOW DID YOU GET INTO ‘FASHION’?

I co-founded Lustr with Liliana Ructtinger and Jeremy Vista in 2016. Each of us comes from a totally different background and brings a unique set of skills to the business. I used to be in mergers and acquisitions – but in an effort to regain my soul, I left the investment banking scene to pursue my creative passions. I ended up establishing myself as a creative director and stylist - over those years I’ve fallen in love with Australian design talent and become close to many of them personally. Liliana’s background is in social research and technology R&D (including 6 years in Silicon Valley), and Jeremy is our wizard tech developer who is behind all the code and algorithms of Lustr (at one point he had Australia’s highest IQ. I know, right?!).
The idea for Lustr was born out of frustration. Working with so many talented independent labels, I ended up hearing the same problems over and over again. It was clear that these labels lacked the resources and marketing reach (let alone budget!) to compete against large brands and fast fashion. They needed a better way to be discovered by their target market and to understand their shoppers in a more analytical way, in order to actually grow their sales. Labels also needed a way to de-risk their business, combat their eternal issues with cashflow and the difficulties of forecasting what was going to sell, well ahead of production –  which itself constantly leads not only chasing their upfront inventory investment, but also contributes to the ever-growing problem of textile waste.

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 WHERE DO YOU FIT INTO THE TCF VALUE CHAIN?

Our mission is to help independent labels grow by matching them directly to shoppers who suit their style and values.
Right now, even if shoppers are interested in supporting independent, local or sustainable fashion, it’s just so much easier for them to go downstairs from their office and pop into Zara. We want to make it even easier (and more fun) for them to immediately discover and shop from independent labels that suit their style.
Functionally, Lustr is an online business-to-consumer (B2C) platform for independent fashion labels that allows them to grow their business in four ways: connect, engage, sell and learn.
  1. Our artificially-intelligent “virtual personal assistant” understands a shopper’s personal preferences and matches them to independent labels that suit their style  and values.
  2. Once connected to their customers, labels can ask shoppers to vote on upcoming designs to crowd-source consumer sentiment from their target market, ie. “do they even like what I’m thinking of producing”?
  3. Shoppers can shop current season, or pre-order through a unique crowdsourcing model, with incentives built in for them to share the upcoming collection with their own friends. Labels receive cashflow earlier in their manufacturing process, also helping with inventory forecasting to de-risk their production.
  4. Finally, labels can learn from the (almost stalker level) data that Lustr collects on their customers to help them make better business decisions.
These combination of these four features are not available anywhere else in an integrated platform, and there are certainly few opportunities for smaller labels to leverage collective data (those big data services are very expensive and usually reserved for use by large corporations with big budgets) as well as an engaged audience of like-minded shoppers, that we are able to collect across all labels on our platform.

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THE FASHION TECH SPACE

What excites you about this space? What are some recent / soon to be game changers? Who do you see as leaders in the field?

We love the amazing progress being made in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and proud to be part of that rapidly advancing field.
In the fashion industry there are some really exciting examples. One of them is IBM technology, “Watson”, which has already been used by fashion designer Jason Grech to help him design an entire collection.
Other examples include Ominous and syte.ai which are companies that use AI for visual search and image recognition - particularly applicable to online fashion retailing.

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THE AUSTRALIAN FASHION LANDSCAPE

 What does ‘Australian Fashion’ mean to you? What sets our designers apart? Where do you see opportunities for our emerging labels?

On a personal level, it’s about designers and entrepreneurs who all have their own unique story to tell, and are all so passionately driven by uniquely Australian values.
From an industry level, Australian Fashion to me is fashion that crosses boundaries – particularly those of seasonality, formality and lifestyle. We are the leaders in trans-seasonal fashion (hello...resortwear!), given our climate and geography, and I think that makes us inherently attractive globally. Australia is known for its laid-back beach culture, I think our designer work very well in this space and imbue their garments with authenticity that comes from designing “in place and for place”.
Designers bring Australian attitudes into everything they do, whether consciously or not, and the world responds to it. There are many opportunities globally, especially in Asia, however it’s also important for emerging labels not to forget about the audience that resonates with them directly - right here at home. We believe in building a solid following where you are, and growing organically from those foundations.

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 WHAT'S NEXT?

 What is keeping you busy? Any exciting projects on the horizon? 

We are busy working towards our public launch! Right at this minute (right as I am typing!) we are onboarding designers who are ready to be on our platform and ramping up our shopper acquisition efforts to make sure that we start with a bang!
We have plenty of additional exciting features on the way, but we’d like to start strong with a limited set of core and essential features to make sure that the labels on Lustr are able to see a clear benefit of being on the platform from day one.
Other than this, we are involved in a few upcoming fashion-tech events and working on some exciting partnerships. Hush hush for now, but can’t wait to tell you about it when the time comes!

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 RECOMMEND 5! WHO/WHAT/WHERE ARE YOUR LOCAL TEXTILE & FASHION GO TO’S?

1. RAGTRADER
 http://www.ragtrader.com.au/
This publication keeps us abreast of all the goings-on in the Australian fashion industry with a distinct business focus. We are business and numbers nerds at heart.
2. FASHION JOURNAL
 http://www.fashionjournal.com.au/
Fantastic source of the best Australian fashion and relevant local events, with some of the best tongue in cheek writing we’ve ever seen.
3. AMY FARRELL A.K.A THE FASHION FUTURIST
https://thefashionfuturist.com/
Amy is wonderfully insightful and a great resource and connection to all things fashion. She really is future-focused in her thinking and knows the fashion industry inside and out. We also consider her a valuable personal friend!
4. CYBELE MALINOWSKI, PHOTOGRAPHER EXTRAORDINAIRE
http://cybelemalinowski.com/
For someone who works in a visual medium, we feel our words would not do her craft any justice. We love her to bits. Just check her out.
5. HOW I BUILT THIS, THE PODCAST
 http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510313/how-i-built-this
It’s not local, nor is it about fashion or textiles BUT it is a super-inspiring podcast series that gets us fired-up (because we’re startup geeks that love building cool stuff that solves real problems). This podcast interviews innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built.

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WHERE CAN WE FIND OUT MORE?

Register as a shopper yourself! Find your own designer matches at https://lustr.style
(Yes, we know how much shopping designers also do for themselves!)
Follow us on FB: https://www.facebook.com/lustr.style
AND Insta @lustr_style
If you’d like to be one of our early adopters and have your own label matched to shoppers, reach out at hello@lustr.style and we’ll send you an info pack.