The Buzzy App Inspired by Polyvore and High-Fashion Twitter
Beyond mood-boarding, Reverie wants to build an online community and open up who has access to fashion.
When Polyvore was acquired by Ssense in April 2018 (and ceased operations soon after), it felt as if all of our teenage hearts shattered.
The creative social commerce platform was once a haven for fashion lovers — a place where they could build intricate mood boards and shop from other's sartorial aspirations. Years later, there still hasn't been something quite like Polyvore. That is, until Reverie.
"We've been getting the Polyvore comparison a lot," Soul Hima, one of the three minds behind the Reverie app, says. (He started working on it while studying fashion and seeing the app's aftermath following his time at — coincidently enough — Ssense.)
Like its name, meaning "daydream" in French, Reverie is a digital destination for all things fashion and visuals. You can build mood boards and visualize outfits on a personal avatar (which can be yourself, or already-downloaded celebrities like Timothée Chalamet and Doja Cat). You can also communicate with the app's community of creatives via a discussion board, which allows you to see how others are curating their styles; shop thousands of posts and, of course, chat through your inspiration – or any topic, really.
Hima began building out what would become Reverie alongside Kedan Li and Jeffrey Zhang in May 2022. Over the next two and a half months, the trio worked on the skeleton of the platform, adding features and collaborating with retailers that made sense for the audience they wanted to target.
"My two other co-founders are PhD students with an expertise in computers and AI. For one of their thesis projects, they were experimenting with putting clothes on models virtually, to have a real representation of clothing on people," Hima says. "They landed on a solution that was quite ahead of a lot of others and were playing with that idea, trying to find a cool way to execute it. When I came into the picture, we were trying to give that experience to our audience."
By July, Reverie was born. Over the next few months, the app collected about 1,000 users; as of January 2023, it has over 5,000. But this is just the beginning.
While developing the platform, Hima acknowledges that they saw parallels with the late Polyvore. "We actually talked to some former employees during my time at Ssense," he says. "While there are some things that we bring in from it, we wanted to still be a very modern app."
Reverie's mood-boarding capabilities are a big (and popular) asset, but the team is pushing it further, according to Hima: "I think we've hit the mark on that core Polyvore-ish experience, and we're going to grow that, but then we're going to grow in all these dimensions that allow us to serve more and more people, in this world of fashion and in culture in general."
Beyond mood boards, the Reverie team wants users to parlay their digital vision into a real fashion experience, whether people join the app as stylists or are simply looking for shopping inspiration. This may be where the potential for monetization lies.
"I wanted to build something that was interesting for people, because the fashion experience is about fun, expression and creativity," Hima says. "You don't have to be in a fashion city to be 'stylish' — you can just open the app and have all the clothes in the world to play around with. But eventually, as Reverie grows, we want people to make a living from it."
The long-term goal, he continues, is about access: "Our hope down the line is that if an 18-year-old kid from New York could be on the app and build their own brand on there, others will start to notice."
Community building remains the top priority for Reverie. Hima tapped into the world of high fashion Twitter because of how much influence this group exerts, often with a fraction of the recognition TikTok or Instagram influencers get.
"I built the app with them in mind," he says. "I know that they would know how to use it best, and it would fill a certain gap for them as far as a social media experience that they would enjoy. It would also be a proof that our concept works, too: Twitter is where we congregate as fashion people, but it's not the safest place for your emotions, if you just want to express yourself — in Reverie, there's really no limit on how much you can write or express."
Reverie also strives to bring back what he believes social media is lacking right now: a "feeling of free expression."
"I know a lot of people, including myself, miss the way people used to log onto Tumblr or other forums and go down these rabbit holes learning about what people like and curating our own taste," he says. "Sites like Instagram are so professional these days. It's like LinkedIn for creatives. TikTok is also cool, but you can't just be on TikTok and do something — you have to play along with the algorithm. You have to almost become an entertainer just to get your point across."
One of the most exciting parts of building Reverie has been the fact that it's been so well-received by the people they built it for, especially on hf Twitter. "With the app getting popular, it's not difficult for us to start to have brand relationships — but we want to use those relationships to empower that community and get them more recognition," Hima says. "They're even saying thank you for it. That's the moment where I really knew that we weren't off the mark here. The app, to me, is about addressing these needs that people have, because I know that I'm in a position to be able to do so."
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