Shaping a revolution: Sojin Lee, the mastermind behind Toshi
A new service promises to bring the dressing room to your doorstep with an assistant delivering the latest fashions in a variety of sizes that you can try on before you buy.
Toshi, nicknamed the Deliveroo for fashion, once signed Chanel and now has his eyes on High Street names like John Lewis. It aims to bring the dressing room to your home thanks to a network of trained seamstresses.
Once you’ve placed your order and chosen a 30-minute delivery time slot, they pick up the clothes from the store and go straight to your doorstep. They bring different sizes, wait while you try on items and can even adjust them for the perfect fit. If you don’t like it, they put it back in the box and take it straight to the store and the cost is covered by the retailer.
They are led by smart technology that is able to track the location of the garment, the assistant, and the customer to make sure they can only order items in stock.
And returned items only leave the store shelves for an average of 90 minutes, often via public transportation. Founder Sojin Lee has been running the company for three years, but the pandemic is sparking excessive interest in new ways of shopping online.
It has doubled the number of premium brands offering the service to more than 50, and hopes to deliver thousands of orders per month by early 2021.
Many fashion enthusiasts looking for an afternoon of retail therapy shrank from the sterile experience that stores offered with strict social distancing measures.
High end: Toshi once signed Chanel and now has his eyes on High Street names like John Lewis
Online sales exploded as stores, especially mid-market and high-end fashion stores, suffered.
But for many, waiting for deliveries, ordering multiple sizes, and standing in line at the post office to return items makes online shopping unappealing.
Lee, a former head of retail and purchasing at Net-a-Porter, believes his technology offers a “ third way ” with the convenience of Amazon Prime or Ocado, but with the experience you receive in store.
Speaking to the Mail, she said: ‘We are in conversation with some big brands and our model can absolutely work up to a brand at the John Lewis price. ”
At the moment, only buyers in London can use Toshi, and the only businesses listed are high-end stores with items starting at 200. It only makes 150 orders per month.
The margins are “healthy” and the Toshi team promises to have started only in luxury because “if you have the roof, you can go anywhere you want”.
The numbers Toshi uses to court brands certainly suggest that. Buyers who receive their order from one of their qualified assistants spend 40% more per order and come back less.
Toshi claims that brands’ overall revenue has increased by 30% thanks to their service. Lee said, “ When you know someone is coming it’s hassle-free, you tend to order more knowing you can give it back. ”
Its army of seamstresses is also growing, aided by the slowdown of the High Street. Some have switched to Toshi’s Deliveroo-style zero hour contracts after being made redundant, but they have more years of fashion retail experience.
The company serves London and New York and plans to move to other luxury hubs such as Paris, Milan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing within the next two to three years.
This means that buyers who are hoping that their next Jigsaw evening dress will be hand-delivered by a stylist may have a little time to wait.