How many clothes do you own? Now how many of those clothes are pair-worthy and actually make you feel confident in them? Imran Sheik, the founder and CEO of the Malaysian startup, Ombré, spends his free time trying his best to answer this question.
Imran told Vulcan Post, “Clothing is indeed in direct correlation to confidence, but it comes after the desire of wanting to look good. Humans are wired to appear presentable. And appearing presentable is one of the main ingredients of being confident.”
Clearly, Marilyn Monroe was onto something when she uttered the unforgettable quote: “Give a girl a right pair of shoes and she will conquer the world”. So what does it take to find the right pair, and how does one find infinite ways of styling that very pair? Ombré is the dedicated tool designed in hopes of answering that age-old question.
The Science Of Clothing
Ombré is an app that helps one to find their own unique sense of style. They do this by conjuring up a complex algorithm to determine clothes which would look objectively good on an individual. Imran shared with Vulcan Post, “The algorithms are basically pre-defined objective rules of fashion that are validated by fashion stylists and based on research and studies on compatibility of clothes and the wearer.”
The app which is currently available on the Apple App store, and soon to be available on Android, operates on 2 main functions–match and explore. Match allows users to match their existing clothes with other garments, and it is more catered for men. Explore, on the other hand, is a personalised e-commerce platform that is more catered for women.
Whether one is a fashionista or an average Joe who knows next to nothing about fashion, there is room on their mobile device for the Ombré app, and Imran illustrates just why. They are not merely just a guide to style. The team are actually aiming to solve a deeper issue than clothes itself, unlike fashion concierge services which are on the rise now. With their startup, you get to pick and pair items you might already own in the first place.
“We’re not solving problems of shopping per se, because it’s a weekly problem, at best. We’re solving the problems that people are facing when they are deciding what to wear. And that’s a daily problem. We believe that when we solve the problem of indecisiveness in wearing clothes, that includes solving the problem of shopping as well. We wish to fashionably kill two birds with one stone,” Imran said.
Mixing And Matching Talents
The Ombré team’s passion for fashion is closely tied to wanting to solve a problem. They also smartly leverage off of their well-rounded background to add substance to their startup. For instance, Imran himself has background in both law and script-writing, and his experience helps him greatly in his journey now as a startup founder.
As a scriptwriter, he said, “I observed that there’s a similarity between writing scripts and the ideation stage of a startup. When we’re writing a script, it’s great to have the bigger picture of the story first, then we will eventually start with the smaller details and plot. Likewise, the ultimate vision I have for Ombré is to eliminate any thinking process I have for determining the suitability of any fashion items. For instance, if I’m wearing a patterned tie with diagonal stripes, can I wear it with a shirt with vertical stripes?”
On the other hand, with his background in law, it has helped him to see the objectivity in fashion and with critical thinking too. “Drafting the algorithms require me to dissect all the little information of a particular garment,” Imran noted.
Through his knowledge in several fields, Imran teams up with friends and business partners, Nurin, Shaheera and Med, who equally have backgrounds in law or entrepreneurship. In fact, Nurin and Imran were business partners of a groundbreaking startup known as Jibril, a non-alcoholic bar in Malaysia.
The Class ‘A’ Team
It seems like creativity and smarts are on the team’s side, for they know exactly how to enter the market and be productively disruptive at the same time. Oddly enough, the idea came about when Imran was working part-time as a retail assistant at Topman.
He was then in his first semester in law school and would often encounter clients asking him the same question over and over again: “Does this look good on me?” After constant repetitions of replies, Imran decided it was high time to find a solution for it. He divulged, “That is when the following saying hit me: If you do it once, great. If you do it twice, frown. If you do it three times, automate it.”
To date, Ombré has been able to engage an estimate of 1000 users, ever since their app launch in April 2016. Still, nothing has changed and the team still stands by the same principle: “Dress like yourself.”
Imran echoed, “We believe that nowadays most people see fashion in relation to clothes per se. We beg to differ. We believe that fashion comprises the clothes and the wearer. The clothes must relate to the wearer. We see that clothes are not mere isolated decorations that we put on our body. Clothes, are in fact, extensions to ourselves. And this ultimately relates to Ombré’s philosophy.”
Feature Image Credit: Syed Amierul Asyraf