Edouard Keller – Managing Director of International Carlin Group: What is Plaiz?
Boukar Sall – Co-founder of Plaiz: Founded by Florian Gras, Billel Attouchi and myself Boukar Sall, Plaiz is an anti-social network for fashion lovers of all kinds. A global pioneer in spearheading the movement to hide likes counters, the app wants to focus on users’ creativity over popularity, making them the most authentic version of themselves. So that everyone has the right to an audience, and does not feel the pressure and the judgment when they go to post content, the app brings together its users in communities according to their tastes, communities to which they can share their held daily. As soon as you arrive on the network, you can share an outfit that will be seen by thousands of users. Kind of like everyone is an influencer.
Boukar Sall – Co-founder of Plaiz
E.K: What is the story behind this project, why did you decide to enter this niche?
B.S: When we started, we just wanted to create an app on which you could receive an anonymous opinion on your outfits and creations when you were hesitant, for example in the dressing room. We realized that users have diverted the use to make it a platform for creative expression, inspiration, and to exchange with other enthusiasts. That’s when we decided to also add more social features to meet these needs of our users as well. When a use is diverted, it (almost) always has to go in the direction of the users. We’ve talked to over 1000 of them to really understand them and create the best experience possible, and that’s just the beginning.
E.K: What is the main difference in positioning between Plaiz and the previously existing social networks? We think in particular of Instagram.
B.S: Anyone who runs an Instagram account knows how harder and harder it is to appear in front of new people and build your following. This discourages many creative people from taking the plunge and sharing their passion. This is where we stand out, because although more and more platforms are (finally) deciding to detach themselves from likes (for our greatest pleasure, because it is a tremendous step forward to reduce the pressure users), they are still too often based on an audience building system that requires investing a lot of time, and sometimes money to attract new subscribers. On Plaiz, users focus on what they love, creation, and we take care of distributing their content to a relevant audience.
E.K: How is this positioning aligned with user expectations?
B.S: Today’s users are looking for authenticity, whether it’s their willingness to be themselves when they express themselves, but also authenticity when they are looking to discover new pieces, brands, or stores for example when they are recommended by influencers. On Plaiz, everyone is a kind of muse for their favorite brand. When users recommend a brand, they do so out of love for that brand. This makes the relationships healthier, the connections between users more natural.
The fact that Plaiz is a safe space also allows our members to step out of their comfort zone and be the boldest version of themselves, to gain confidence in themselves, which is no small feat after the year we’ve all just had, which has had a serious impact on the mental wellbeing of all generations, including the one we’re addressing, Generation Z.
E.K: Is there a typical Plaiz user (age, gender, region, style)?
B.S: Plaiz brings together all styles and welcomes everyone, so we’d like to say “everyone”, but as the app grows mainly through word of mouth, we’re starting to see some communities grow faster than others. So right now, the typical Plaiz user is between 15 and 20 years old, because they have more freedom in their clothing than the user who is starting to enter the workforce. There is no majority gender at the moment, we are about equal, especially for this generation for which gender is never really fixed. Most of our users live in France but we are seeing a growing community abroad this year. And in terms of style, we had a strong dominance of everything urban at the start of the application, because we had launched a 100% streetwear fashion week (which will come back when the health crisis is under control), but today, we find all styles. That said, when we hear our users describe someone as “really very Plaiz”, they are often very original styles. The best way to capture the spirit and get a feel for it is to walk around the app for 5 minutes!
E.K: Do you think such a project would have made sense 5 years ago?
B.S: Today’s dominant social networks were less saturated 5 years ago, and were evolving at a greater pace to best meet user needs. They were a bit more innovative. We might not have experienced the same craze, because it is our ability to innovate quickly and understand our community that makes us strong. Moreover, because of our values, which are becoming more and more important in the lives of Generation Z, we are particularly in tune with the times. That said, launching the project 5 years ago would have made sense if it had helped inspire other platforms and accelerate the transition of social networks towards this new vision.
E.K: And, in the future, would you like to go even further in your approach?
B.S: It’s all about that! We will continue to discover new ways to allow our users to become the boldest version of themselves, to create a safe space for them to express themselves, to give them the creative tools they need, and to question the status quo to build an application that doesn’t need to follow the standards defined over the last decade. For example, it’s possible to describe a publication by voice, or comment on it by voice, what are other apps waiting for? It’s about time.
E.K: Do you think this model is exportable abroad? Do you already have users on other continents?
B.S: The values we carry are international, and the content that appears on users’ screens does not depend on their geographical area. That said, it’s important for us to focus on a specific geography in the first instance. Again, if we realize that our growth is becoming more important in the US for example (I use this example because everyone keeps telling us “Plaiz would grow even faster in L-A or N-Y”), then we will make efforts to cater to those users, but today we are launching features like being able to give away the clothes identified in a photo to potentially interested users, in order to be part of a circular economy approach. And these types of features require a concentration of our users in a geographic area.
E.K: What role has Covid played in your business? Both at Plaiz and from a user perspective?
B.S: Concerning our users, having more time in front of them, some of them have been able to discover talents such as DIY, customization, sewing, dyeing, so their creativity has been increased tenfold, despite the negative impact on their mental well-being that we were talking about earlier.
Regarding B2B, we work with brands and stores that have been impacted by the crisis and the closing of stores, so they had to slow down their adoption of new concepts, but this allowed us to prepare solutions to their current problems and to anticipate their future problems.
E.K: Who are your customers today?
B.S: It’s any fashion company that has a potential interest in reaching Gen Z quickly, or understanding them. For example, we offer a dashboard that allows brands to be inspired by our users’ outfits to get an at-a-glance look at what our user segment is loving right now. For trend detection and prediction, we have an exclusive partnership with Carlin to complement Carlin’s analysis with relevant iconography from our content databases.
E.K: Can you tell us something about what you are currently doing with department stores?
B.S: One of the issues I was talking about earlier is the recurring closure of stores since Covid. We have launched pilots allowing these stores to transform their teams into personal shoppers. They take a picture or video of themselves with the clothes in the store, and either identify the clothes, which will be accompanied on the app by a purchase link, or let our artificial intelligence identify the clothes and add the link. This allows our users to virtually visit the stores.
E.K: Is there any other aspect of the project you would like to discuss?
B.S: We’ve done the trick! To know more, you’ll have to download the application, or write us an email: email@example.com ! We are open to partnerships that can create value for our users, and we are also, as you will have understood, very fond of any feedback on the application, so that we can continue to improve it, so write us