Cher’s Closet From Clueless Is Becoming A Reality, Thanks To Kate Davidson Hudson’s Vêtir

by Freya Drohan

As one Manolo-wearing Sex and the City protagonist once said: We like our money where we can see it, hanging in our closet. Or, some 20 years later, organized digitally right at our fingertips. Industry veteran Kate Davidson Hudson (co-founder of Editorialist, former CDO of LuisaViaRoma, and former editor at Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE, to call out a few of her resume highlights) has launched a revolutionary new shopping app called Vêtir. In fact, you probably already know this, as the social media rollout enlisted many notable people to tease the platform, in the lead-up to a major launch bash hosted during Paris Fashion Week. She’s known for her own immaculate outfits, which have ensured she’s been a street style star since the moment she first got on a magazine masthead, and now Davidson Hudson wants to make sure shoppers around the world feel that polished too. Keen to know more, we got the low-down on how she’s embracing AI, streamlining shopping, and bringing a luxury feel to the world of fashion tech, as only a seasoned editor could!  

First off! Tell us about the name—how do you pronounce it, and what’s the backstory?
It’s ‘Vê-tear.’  It means to clothe in French…and what could be chicer than a well-clothed French woman?

How long has this been in the works?
We’ve been in research and development for the last two years. And, with the pace of change we’re seeing in AI and computer learning, I think we’ll always have proverbial scaffolding up as we continue to innovate and iterate.

We’re dying to know! How did Tom Brady end up recording a promo ahead of launch?
He’s a friend of the brand, and really loves the technology. As someone who sees a lot, is high visibility (so dressing well matters), definitely has his own elevated sense of style, and lives a dynamic lifestyle, he epitomizes the Vêtir user in someone who seeks quality and efficiency, in equal measure. So we were happy to have him offer his support to Vêtir’s launch.

How does Vêtir reflect your vision for the future of luxury fashion tech, based on your own career in editorial and traditional/digital media?
There’s a great book out by Kyle Chayka, called Filterworld: How Algorithms Flatten Culture, that speaks to how our newly algorithmic world flattens our culture by essentially dictating our likes and preferences, making us homogenized, complacent consumers. I think what we’ve been seeing a lot of, and what’s reflected in many traditional e-com, digital media properties, and brand P&Ls is that there is a bit of algorithm fatigue. Human touch and personalization is, and will, continue to be as important a differentiator as ever. Whoever creates experience through personalization and a sense of intimacy will win in the digital space. A large piece of achieving this is done through experiential activation and strong storytelling. I started my career as an editor, so I understand deeply the power of curation and how that art form can ultimately drive sales.

Where does Vêtir come in?
I wanted to build something that spoke to how I wanted to shop and consume. Personalization, experience, and ease were the three guiding principles. With Vêtir, we’ve leveraged technology to create one smart ecosystem that marries all of a shopper’s consumption touch points: brick and mortar options, personal shopper resources, and e-commerce touch points into a smart platform that customizes your feed specifically to you. Instead of jumping between Instagram, website URLs, and brick and mortar stores to see all options available to purchase, we’ve created a system that merges them all into a custom shopping experience. We’ve also created what people like to term ‘Cher’s Closet’—which allows full visibility into your wardrobe and empowers you to up-style what you already own and manage your wardrobe more efficiently. Imagine buying a new top at Khaite and being able to hit ‘Add to Closet’ and its virtual doppelgänger appears, allowing you to style it out, or add to packing lists, or, eventually send it out to a secondary liquidation point of sale. You can also invite a stylist into your closet—our concierge will also connect you with one of our approved stylists, complimentary, if you’re on the app and need one. They can send you product recommendations to shop from, style outfits for you, make packing lists, or add outfits to your personal calendar so your entire style journey is managed for you. Behind the scenes, our AI is also learning your shopping preferences and can send you custom product suggestions. You can also chat with our AI stylist who will give you outfit and product suggestions based on your size, the weather where you are, and your preferences. The more you use Vêtir, the smarter and more personalized it becomes. To me, this is the type of experience and intimacy that will become the future of fashion luxury and technology. A personalized blend of art and science.

Paula Knight, Brooks Nader, Sai De Silva, Ashley Graham, Kate Davidson Hudson, Priya Shukla, Ronny Kobo at the Vêtir x Vogue100 Launch Party in Paris (BFA)

Tell us more about the AI technology and how it shapes the user experience?
Our AI is a key player in the personalization of our customer experience. Everything our user touches builds on AI capabilities that will transform their consumer journey. More specifically, our AI has been in training for over a year and has become quite acute in learning to style out looks and make product or outfit selections based on current trends, cross-referenced with a user’s individualized style preferences.

Oh, wow. So literally ‘smart dressing!’
Next month, we’re unveiling a new AI feature that pulls pieces from your personal digital closet and creates outfits for you based on what you already own. It’s a big unlock for us in terms of achieving hyper-personalization at scale. For our brand partners, who are licensing the Vêtir app to better clientele to their own customers, our technology is able to create AI-powered analytics to drive business intelligence and better serve their end consumer. The Vêtir enterprise app empowers brands to drive personalization at scale. This is working to grow client acquisition and the lifetime value of their clients. We’re seeing huge growth in both purchase frequency, average order values, and UPT [editor’s note: units per transaction] for our partners using the licensed version of the app. At the end of the day, brands are realizing that personalization is no longer a nice-to-have: it’s mission critical, and our AI really works to transform the customer experience and create massively enhance efficiencies for our partners.

Could you walk us through a user’s journey on Vêtir, from closet management to making a purchase? How does the app ensure a seamless and personalized experience?
When a client onboards, they can upload their digital closet or choose just to start shopping. The value in uploading one’s closet is two-fold, in that it helps to fine tune your personal algorithm to give you more personalized product and outfit suggestions. It also allows you, or your stylist, to work in your virtual closet and create outfits, packing lists for trips, or add outfits to your calendar so you are planned out and pre-styled every day. If a user has a personal stylist, they can give them access to their closet so they can start to work together virtually, without the typical restrictions of geography or time zones. And, if a Vêtir user does not have a stylist but would like help in personalizing their shopping experience, our concierge team will match them with a Vêtir-approved stylist to work with, free of charge, as part of our community. Whether they’re shopping independently or stylist-led, a Vêtir user has access to shop through several different modalities that are all displayed on the homepage: shoppable video (a patent-pending technology we developed), editorial stories, a stylist feed, and AI merchandised feed, and a new arrivals feed with daily drops from all of our brand partners and personal shoppers. From there, a client is empowered to add items to cart and check out as you would in a typical e-comm experience. Except now, users can have new products added to their closet immediately at the time of purchase so their closet grows seamlessly with them over time. For many of our users, their wardrobes are a meaningful investment, so being able to manage the lifecycle of their investment portfolio is a huge value add. We further the customer experience with live chat functionalities, video chats, and an AI stylist who are all additive in creating a hyper-personalized user journey.

Launching an app like Vêtir must come with its own set of challenges. What have been some significant hurdles, and how did you overcome them?
Yes! The fascinating and challenging thing about technology is the pace at which it evolves, and staying in step with that rapid innovation is both exciting and daunting. There are too many hurdles to bore you with here, but I think the pervasive through-line with how to overcome all of them was to dig in, to study, to iterate…and iterate some more! And surround yourself with people much smarter than yourself. Which is something I did with our global team at Vetir.

Additionally, what milestones are you most proud of achieving with Vêtir so far?
I’m constantly blown away by the power of our AI to transform the user experience. Working through how to harness the data learnings from AI to create actionable and immediate solutions for our users, continues to be a big win for our team. I would also say that building our shoppable video technology, which allows stylists and brands to make all of their video content immediately shoppable in under two minutes, was a feat that our team is very proud of. For me, this piece was critical to bringing the experiential element into a digital interface. From stylist tutorials, to shopping live runways shows, to creating gated shopping events that allow clients and brands to connect despite being miles and time zones apart, is a powerful ancillary to the user journey.

As a female entrepreneur in fashion and tech, what helps you stay ahead of the curve?
The tech world is notoriously male driven. We desperately need more women in STEM. Women control 85% of consumer spending and they are the highest growth consumer group—so there is a big gap specific to the tech space for women. I think digging in and investing energy to learn everything you can about technology today is an obvious first step. I also think learning how other industries and cohorts of people utilize available technologies is an incredible way to challenge yourself to think outside of the box and rethink your approach to how technology can optimize your own industry. In my case, that was fashion. And, of course, stay curious. Surround yourself with people in a particular field of tech and learn as much as you can from them. The future is tech. At Vêtir, we have incredible male team members, and we’re also hyper- focused on incubating female talent in this space.

On that note, what’s the best advice another female founder has ever given you?
A female founder at this year’s Female Founder’s Fund CEO Summit said something that felt particularly apropos against the backdrop of, what I think, is one of the most fast-paced technological revolutions of our time. She told me that the one thing you cannot fake—or buy—is trust. That’s important advice right now because customers are smart. They understand there’s a value exchange if they are trusting you with their information in order to use your technology, they expect you to protect it and use it responsibly.


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A post shared by Kate Davidson (@katedavidsonhudson)

Let’s talk fashion! What were some of your takeaways from Fashion Month? Any predictions or industry leanings you found particularly interesting?
I love all of the return to ladylike dressing, there’s a certain subversive power in the quiet strength and cool precision of so many of those looks from FW ’24: Prada, Miu Miu, and The Row, to name a few. And I loved the almost more deconstructed an laidback layered looks from Chloè, Louis Vuitton, and Bottega Veneta. I think it’s an interesting return to women dressing for themselves or for other women. There’s a quiet luxuriousness, but also a quiet strength inherent to this mood. I also loved the incredible range of statement coats we saw this season. I always say Fall Winter is about the coat and the shoe, and there were so many incredible options to choose from Gabriela Hearst to Michael Kors and Stella McCartney.

What are your favorite brands of the moment, and what pieces are you gravitating towards from them?
Occupational hazard, but I have probably too many favorite brands to list. Among them, Khaite, Alaïa, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, The Attico, Jacquemus, and Michael Kors are always some of my go-tos!

Do you think your own shopping habits have changed in recent years?
I find that I’m a more targeted shopper than ever before. I, like most of our users on Vêtir, am extremely time poor. So I have less time to explore and am more interested in accessing very specific key pieces each season. I want to see products aligned with the moods and pieces I’m interested in. For me, the most frustrating experience is the endless scroll of pieces that just fill the feed. I want precision targeting when I shop, so there is a density of desirability in my scroll, as opposed to filler and fluff!

What are the next steps for Vêtir in terms of features, partnerships, or expansion? And how do you see the app evolving in the next few years?
Next month we’ll launch the next version of our AI stylist that will actually visually craft outfits from your closet for you, based on your personal style and shopping preferences. We’ll also formally launch menswear and beauty categories. We have several exciting partnerships coming throughout the year that will, additionally, provide exclusive opportunities for our users. And, we have a couple of exciting new tech launches that will further enhance the shopping experience for our users and brands. Those are top secret for now 😉

[Download Vêtir right here]

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