In today’s world of luxury retail, he who makes the sale as quick and painless as possible is king. Or queen. In 2009, inspired by the way young people were using social media, Sophie Hill, a blonde 20-something fashion buyer, launched Threads Styling, a personal shopping service with a mission to “Inspire, Acquire, Deliver”. All its business is done using social media: new clients usually arrive through Instagram before being picked up by the brand’s WhatsApp host team, who connect them with a personal shopper (one of 27) who becomes their sole point of contact. All communications are done via messaging. They call it “conversational commerce” or “chat-based media”, but the business model emulates normal peer-to-peer communication.
From the start, Hill was unapologetic in her ambition to serve a younger clientele. “I remember, early on, people saying to me, ‘Why are you concentrating on millennials? They’re not a big enough market,’ ” Hill recalls. “People didn’t understand. They thought everything we were doing felt too youthful. And I was like, ‘I really, really think that nobody is speaking to this generation.’ ”