Why Eric Niu launched an app to help men dress well - Technical.ly DC

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Apr. 26, 2017 12:54 pm

Why Eric Niu launched an app to help men dress well

Swaggle lets guys swipe new fits. Fashion is “just something in my blood,” Niu said.

Members of the Swaggle team.

(Courtesy photo)

Eric Niu moved to D.C. about four years ago to work in the Obama administration. He was 21 years old, fresh out of college and ready to change the world.

But first he had to get dressed in the morning, and this turned out to be a major pain point.

“One of the hardest things for me was to pick my outfit every day,” Niu told Technical.ly. He wanted to clothe himself in a professional wardrobe, but didn’t have a lot of money to spend. He started swapping clothes with friends (some of whom are now his cofounders) and the inkling that would become Swaggle was born.

Swaggle (from “swag” and “haggle”) is an app that seeks to “optimize the shopping experience for men.” In some ways it is like a mobile consignment shop — men sell high-end and high-quality used clothing to other users for reduced prices. But the format is more simple than the traditional consignment shop, where women’s clothes are far more prevalent than men’s and browsing is the name of the game. Swaggle shows a user one available item at a time, allowing him to swipe left to move on, swipe right to make an offer or mark to save for later.

It’s that simple.

“For most men,” Niu said, though he admits there are some outliers, “browsing can be very overwhelming.” With Swaggle you don’t have to. You can input the item you’re looking for, swipe through options and make a choice. Once you’ve reached an agreed price for the item you can buy it, then choose between mail delivery, an in-person handoff or pick up at a local consignment shop.

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Swaggle partners with local consignment shops for this reason — the recently-launched app offers these brick-and-mortar businesses both more foot traffic and a place to post and sell their own wares.

In the Swaggle app. (Screenshot)

In the Swaggle app. (Screenshot)

The app pays attention, too. The more a user indicates their interests, the more Swaggle can tailor suggestions. Ultimately, Niu told Technical.ly, the goal is to be able to offer curated style guidance. “We want to set the standard for the way men shop.”

For now Swaggle’s users are concentrated in the D.C. and Baltimore area — the company of 10 is a 1776 member and recently took part in the Accelerate Baltimore accelerator program. While Niu would love to get as far as an expansion to NYC (the fashion capital!) after the seed round the company is currently looking to raise, D.C. is a great first market for what Swaggle offers. “D.C. is perfect for the idea because there’s a constant influx of young professionals and interns,” he said.

Young professionals much like Niu and his cofounders were themselves, just four short years ago.

Organizations: Swaggle
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