Spend any amount of time rattling around the Bay Area fashion and technology scene, and you’re bound to run into Tracy Sun. The Poshmark co-founder and current VP of marketing has spent the better part of the past year building her company’s person-to-person style marketplace into the go-to iPhone app for fashion fans to buy and sell each other’s clothes and accessories, and that’s meant plenty of engagement of the face-to-face variety.
A few things you should know about Sun, who’s a Barnard/Columbia grad and also a Dartmouth b-school alum: behind the enviable style and sweet smile, she’s full of razor sharp insight about the fashion tech landscape. Second, the girl knows how to throw a party that’s a hit both I.R.L. and on your phone. And she can pull off an a dress that looks something like “what Little Orphan Annie would wear if she guest-starred on Mad Men.”
Read on for my recent chat with this rising fashion tech star:
Thanks to your role with Poshmark, you live at the intersection of fashion and technology. Why do you think we’re seeing such a surge in interest in the fashion-tech space right now? Do you think it will continue?
Fashion has always been a very large and interesting space, but has primarily been left to the more traditional fashion industry folks to play in. What is really interesting right now is the emergence and mass adoption of major technology trends, which are well poised to disrupt this somewhat old-fashioned industry. So for example, harnessing the power of social relationships, providing a more personalized engine for discovery, and leveraging the power of mobile devices open up interesting opportunities in the world of fashion. These trends are ones that the technology world knows quite a bit about. I think we should expect to see a lot more activity in the fashion-tech space. What is unclear is which application of these technologies is going to make sense to the consumer in the long run.
Every tech-savvy entrepreneur has a few can’t-live-without apps and web tools they use daily to make their lives more efficient, effective and just plain better. What are you currently obsessed with?
Whether I like it or not, I am in the car two hours a day going to and from work. I try to make this commute productive by catching up on news and exploring new music. Right now, the NPR app (Morning Edition and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me are my current faves) and Rhapsody are my go-to apps in the car.
On the business front, I’m moving around and traveling quite a bit. Dropbox, which I use on both my laptop and iPhone, allows me to be mobile without missing a beat. Love their app!
Finally, I’m on the Poshmark app every day. I know, I know. This is obvious. But what I’ll admit to you is that I’m on the app A LOT more than I really need to be to do my job. I think I’m addicted!
If you had to choose either your mobile phone, your laptop or a tablet device and live with only one for the next year, which would you choose and why
Hands down my iPhone. Because it can do everything that all my other devices can AND it fits in every purse I own.
What are your go-to sources for staying on top of current fashion news and trends?
I consume most of my news online these days. I regularly read Business of Fashion, Who What Wear, the Cut, and Refinery29 to keep current on what the blogosphere thinks about what’s going on in the fashion world. I also read a lot of local and indie fashion blogs – this is where I get most of my inspiration throughout the day.
What’s the most memorable item you’ve scored off Poshmark?
My most memorable Poshmark purchase is this bright red vintage Ann Taylor Dress I bought from a Poshmarker who lives in Berkeley. I imagine it’s like what Little Orphan Annie would wear if she guest starred on Mad Men. It’s definitely very bright and feminine. I love it.
A decade ago, secondhand clothing was something mainly embraced by shoppers hoping to save money and niche groups such as vintage lovers and thrifters. Today, secondhand seems to not only have gone mainstream, but is arguably more fashionable than ever. Any thoughts about this shift, what’s prompted it and why so many fashion-forward shoppers are suddenly eager to shop and sell secondhand?
One interesting trend I am seeing in mainstream fashion is a backlash to mass fashion retailers such as Zara, H&M and Forever21. These brands were embraced quickly by many fashion-forward shoppers as these stores made runway trends readily accessible and affordable. Many of these same fashion-forward women are becoming less and less excited about wearing trendy items that all their friends are wearing too. Women are now looking for ways to differentiate themselves and their style. Shopping the vintage and secondhand market is a great way to find unique additions to your wardrobe.
Can we expect to see more I.R.L. Posh Parties in the future?
Yes of course! We just threw a great Posh Party in NYC, and it was a blast. Any suggestions on where we should go next? I’m thinking Chicago would be fun.
You’ve spent the better part of the past year helping to build an audience on Poshmark, and I often see you out and about at events. Obviously, you’ve got both virtual and I.R.L. networking skills. What advice do you have for others trying to building audiences and networks, both on and offline?
Many people think that networking is about finding people who can help you with your goals. I think it’s really helpful to see things the other way around. Start by finding ways you can help other people achieve their goals. Building audiences is about building relationships, and the best relationships are ones where you give as well as get.
Any exciting news or new developments on the horizon to share with readers?
I can say this: we here at Poshmark love a good Posh Party. So stay tuned for some exciting new developments around how our Posh Parties are going to get even better.
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