Savitar Jagtiani has a lot of experience taking a traditional brick and mortar business online. The Landmark Group, one of the largest retail groups in the GCC kept pace with the technological changes thanks to Jagtiani, who headed up all things digital at the company. After almost a decade, he decided to step down from his role as chief digital officer and join the world of startups by launching Twinning, an app and mobile-based e-commerce platform targeting people who want to match their items of clothing.
The company has already signed 30 brands onto the platform, from fast fashion to luxury and has raised $3 million in seed funding is now looking to raise $4 million for its Series A round.
Was it difficult to leave the Landmark Group?
It was a very hard decision to leave Landmark Group. I built the whole digital team, by the time I left the team was 500-people strong, we took 11 of Landmark’s biggest brands and took them online. But I left all that in September last year, I walked away from a phenomenal package. But the thing is it felt incredibly exciting, I believe in it completely, I have no regrets, I am back in full startup mode, starting from scratch.
The main difference now is that I’m no longer running the 18th floor at Landmark, I’m now in a co-working space, surrounded by loads of hardworking, ambitious entrepreneurs.
How did the idea for Twinning come about?
The idea for Twinning hit me when I was reading about New York Fashion Week. I was already familiar with the concept of twinning, as a father of three sons, they match their fashion 70 to 80 per cent of the time. But New York Fashion week got my attention, when you think of fashion weeks, you think of catwalks and the runway, but this was parent and child fashion, matching it as a concept.
So, I went onto Instagram and saw 4.6 million posts with the hashtag #twinning. I asked myself where exactly in the world is the greatest destination for buying matching styles and it didn’t exist so I thought it was a great opportunity. I have 18 years of retail and e-commerce experience, I felt it was a great time to build something to become the ultimate destination for matching fashion and style.
The fashion e-commerce space is becoming saturated, how do you cope with that?
We’ve done some really unique things. There is no shortage of online fashion players today, but all of those players essentially focus on shopping for the individual user. Twinning focuses on discovering and matching shopping style and our business model is unique as we provide a 10 per cent discount on shopping matching styles with us.
We're also differentiating on the experience, we hand-curate looks from leading brands and provide product videos for almost everything in our catalogue.
Twinning draws its strength from the community, we already have over a thousand people who have tagged us with their twinning looks on Instagram.
What will your industry look like in the next decade?
There will be much greater dependence on artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance the online experience. AI will be used for greater personalisation and ML will become a personalised style assistant and give you recommendations based on current trends and what looks best on you. These technologies have very realistic use cases from enhancing search to styling. As for brands and fashion businesses, they need to focus on sustainability and fair trade and be more inclusive as a business. There is going to be a need for greater transparency
Retail will always be both brick and mortar and online, it’s not one or the other. Globally, e-commerce is 10 per cent of retail, it comes down to your preferences, you might feel the need to shop conveniently online all the time or you might want to go to the stores and do your research there – it’s complementary behaviour.