A description and critical review is given about the fashion app ChicFeed, written by two students of the Amsterdam Fashion Institute: Nina Burer and Natalie Mistewicz.
ChicFeed is an application that gathers pictures of outfit inspirations posted on the most popular fashion blogs like The Sartorialist or LookBook and displays all of them in one place. It saves time and makes life easier for consumers, who follow multiple fashion blogs and wish to view all the latest content without having to go through all of them separately.
ChicFeed was launched in 2009 by Andrew Gates, who is a developer of various (not necessarily fashion related) smartphone apps and games. It is estimated that the app was downloaded about 50 000 times worldwide (XYO Beta 2014). The app exists also in a website version (Chicfeed.com).
The posts are very basic; they only contain a picture taken from a blog. Usually, it presents a blogger wearing an outfit. One can look through the images just by swiping left or right. By tapping the image, information appears about which blog the image came from. There is no additional information about the clothing and brands used in the outfit. ChicFeed collects content from seven blogs, namely – LookBook, The Satorialist, Face Hunter, Cherry Blossom Girl, Jack&Jill, Altamira and Chictopia. Their post frequency varies from couple new posts a week to a dozen new posts a day. The app itself is free. However, there are ads popping up while using the app. The ads cannot be disabled. They can only be got rid of in ChicFeed+, which is a paid version of ChicFeed. The possibility to avoid ads is the only extra feature the paid version provides (App Data, 2014).
ChicFeed is a very simple app and its only purpose is to generate posts by collecting images from the above mentioned blogs. The images are posted automatically and do not go through any selection process supervised by another human being. For that reason, the app does not have any specific style direction. The somewhat “collective” style of the app could be classified in the general contemporary trends category, due to the variety of styles presented by the fashion blogs it employs. Though every blog has a slightly different style and slightly different audience, one characteristic that all of those blogs have in common is that they present outfit ideas that are fresh, contemporary and embody the latest fashion trends.
ChicFeed lacks its own content and style, so it cannot possibly and was not meant to impact the fashion scene in any major way. It was created only to make it easier to follow other blogs. Judging by the number of downloads compared to the number of followers each blog has, it seems that the app did not catch on among the fashion crowd. For example, LookBook alone claims to have over 3 million unique visitors per month (LookBook, 2014). One reason why the app is not popular might be that it is not referred to or promoted by any of the blogs it features. There is no information on the blogs that even suggests that this app exists.
Moreover, it seems that people who visit blogs don’t need the convenience that the app offers. Every blog has its own signature style and pictures. When visiting its website, one gets a different impression and feel of every blog. It gives the blogs more meaning and makes it more of an experience. Also, on the actual blog websites, pictures are accompanied by descriptions, brand information, sometimes by an interview or a story behind the pictures. When swiping through all these pictures in such a simplistic automated app as ChicFeed, the whole meaning is lost and the experience feels impersonal. For the fashion conscious trend oriented consumers who follow fashion blogs, the experience offered by the app proves to be not enough (GetGeekChic, 2014).
Although most of the customer opinions were positive and praised the app for saving their time and making it easy to find outfit inspirations when dressing up in the morning, ChicFeed was only given 2.5 out of 5 stars in the customer review on iTunes AppStore (iTunes, 2014).
In conclusion, ChicFeed delivers what it has promised – a daily capsule update from multiple fashion blogs. Unfortunately, the way it loses the soul and misses the point of blogging turned out to outweigh the accessibility it offers. A way to improve the app would be to include more of the original blog post’s content with the images.