Startup: WESTxEAST


Founder: Liya Thachil & Tania Chackumkal

Pitch: WESTxEAST is delivering an online shopping experience for the new consumer of luxury goods, a market that has been overlooked and underserved: the emerging market consumer (EMC).

Video Highlights


To deliver an online shopping experience for the new consumer of luxury goods, a market that has been overlooked and underserved: the emerging market consumer (EMC).

Macro Thesis:

Our macro thesis involves the direction of fashion and luxury shoppers. These people are no longer found solely in cities such as London or New York City, but rather New Delhi and Dubai. These cities have a burgeoning upper class and are opening their economies for the first time.

Through observing these emerging market consumers, we discovered a new style DNA, one that takes cultural influences and makes them more modern and accessible. This is the next frontier of luxury consumption and we will see more brands entering this arena.

Market Sizing:

In regards to market sizing, our target is emerging market consumers who are recently affluent and connected online. They spent $20 billion dollars on luxury goods in 2014 alone. Their consumption rate is expected to grow about 5-8% per year.

Product Or Service:

Our service is an e-commerce. We scout designers and curate pieces into style stories. These stories provide inspiration and style ideas to this unique customer because it relates to their fashion needs. Customers can communicate directly with us and request customizations or have their questions answered. Through careful curation, culturally sensitive content and a wide array of options, WESTxEAST provides them with a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

The logic behind starting off in the US is because a lot of emerging market consumers jet set to North America and Europe to shop the latest fashion collections. There are enough pockets of these consumers within NYC to provide a good basis for testing. Also, e-commerce is an efficient, accepted way to shop here, so before investing into building infrastructure from scratch in global regions, we want to perfect our platform first.

We discovered EMCs when we started a personal shopping service in India back in 2012. We realized that this consumer was constantly being overlooked and was craving top brands, as well as someone to guide them. This caused our service to quickly expand beyond South Asia to the Middle East. Their style is cross-cultural, fusing modern and traditional silhouettes. Our platform is inspired by their style and celebrates it.

Real And Vaporware:

WESTxEAST just officially launched its online shopping experience that also includes a functioning chat service allowing shoppers to access services akin to Harrods’ or Bergdorf Goodman’s without the plane fare.

Right now, the website is in English and US dollars with domestic shipping options. In the future, the website will translate into a customer’s native language and currency with international shipping.

Our future plan is to open up a brick & mortar store. Currently, we’re prepping for a pop-up shop in conjunction with New York Fashion Week. We plan to host pop-up shops bi-annually starting with NYC and the next one will take place in Dubai.

Why Us:

We come armed with a strong background within the luxury fashion industry. Liya has worked under the former Creative Director of Gucci and for Chanel’s haute couture department. Tania is an alumna of Conde Nast College of Fashion & Design in London and has received a degree in International Business.

WESTxEAST is not just another e-commerce and not just another brand. We consider ourselves a movement beyond style and borders.

Andrew’s Commentary:

This business talks about the opportunity of addressing a burgeoning global market for luxury goods and identifies very real trends at the high end of the market towards adoption of non-Western fashion. I’m a big believer in the opportunity at the high end of the market, and I also think there’s a big opportunity to capitalize on the same trends in the middle part of the market.

Homi Kharas of the Brookings Institution estimates that the global middle class, which he defines as people with annual per capital expenditures of between $3,650 and $36,500, will grow from 2 billion people in 2012 to 4.9 billion people by 2030. The biggest contributors to this group will be from China and India. America’s percentage of the global middle class will shrink from 50% to 22%.

In fashion, this means that an entirely new class of people will be buying apparel — much of it online. What cultures will contribute most significantly to the fashion trends that this massive new class of consumers will be consuming? It seems likely that a significant portion of apparel will reflect non-Western originated styles. Who will capitalize on the opportunity of selling apparel to this new class of consumers? Local startups? Localized versions of Amazon or Everlane? Or will there be a new class of startups looking to aggregate styles originating from around the world with a focus on this new demographic?

If you’re thinking about building a fashion startup in what seems like an otherwise crowded space, you might consider the green field opportunity of targeting this new class of relatively wealthy consumers who will bring their purchasing power online at an extraordinary pace.

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