For anyone who's ever been plagued with a last-minute style conundrum on the day of a holiday party or needed to pick up a luxe gift for a party hostess before leaving the office, a new app called PS Dept. is here to help — or, at the very least, to transform those worries into a much more enjoyable shopping experience. The app, which was founded by fashion industry vet Michelle Goad and tech executive Wolf Klinker in 2011, seeks to transform the concept of virtual shopping, packing the personal perks of an in-store shopping experience into a mobile app. Users simply text an "in-store expert" who is physically at the store any question they have — whether it's a direct product question ("What snow boots do you currently have available at Moda Operandi?") or a more specific styling question ("Do you have style advice for my holiday party? I'm looking for a dress with sequins"). Manhattan residents can submit credit card info, click to purchase items they like, and receive them the same day.
"This whole experience is really about putting the person back into the shopping experience," said PS Dept's spokesperson. "This is about having a very personable, engaging one-to-one experience. Whether you’re sitting on your couch in New York City, Colorado, or upstate New York, you can ask whatever you want to find whatever you need. The experts in store will answer right back."
PS Dept. gives users access to in-store experts at over 40 different luxury brands, including Stella McCartney, Derek Lam, Diane von Furstenberg, 3.1 Philip Lim, Moda Operandi, and Theory. Users first build a profile and select their favorite brands, which the in-store experts can view to understand the style of the customer they're speaking to. Customers can then ask the in-store experts any questions or concerns they have over text, and the experts can respond with snapshots of recommended items they have available. When the consultation is over, users can purchase the hand-picked goods over the app. Free shipping and free returns apply to all purchases from the app, even including the boutiques that don't typically offer it. "We built PS Dept. to take the friction out of needing to go into stores," Goad explained. "If you need something, there's people in-store who are actually on call. We call them 'the Genius Bar for Fashion' because they’re accessible from anywhere."