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Nasty Gal and 7 Other Startups Who Are Disrupting Fashion

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Nasty Gal's Sophia Amoruso at her LA office. Photo by Jesse Fiorino, via Racked LA
Nasty Gal's Sophia Amoruso at her LA office. Photo by Jesse Fiorino, via Racked LA

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Last week, Fast Company published their list of the world's 50 most innovative companies. Among the predictable retail behemoths like Nike, Target, and Amazon, a group of emerging fashion and beauty start-ups were honored. Nasty Gal, Modcloth, Styleseat, Science, Snapette, Birchbox, and Ahalife tied for billing at number 19 on the list because, as Fast Company sees it, they are collectively succeeding at giving the fashion and beauty business a digital makeover. Here's a summary of why these companies stand out, and how they're innovating in the digital fashion world.

Nasty Gal: For confidence in style
Nasty Gal's gritty, sexy, urban take on casual style may not be for everyone, but the company grew from from $28 million in 2011 to more than $120 million in 2012, proving that it's definitely for someone. "This is what I think is cool," founder Sophia Amoruso puts it simply. And thus, an empire was born.

Modcloth: For letting the customer chose what the shop sells
ModCloth recently began using "Be the Buyer," a program that lets its shoppers pick from samples to decide what it should produce and ultimately sell on line. "There have been more than 17 million votes for products since it started," founder Susan Gregg Koger told Fast Company.

StyleSeat: For identifying a giant, gaping hole in the beauty market
Since the first hair salon hung up its shingle, word of mouth has been the fundamental, if precarious, publicity strategy for hair stylists. "None of the nerdy men in Silicon Valley had been thinking about this," StyleSeat CEO Melody McCloskey told Fast Company. So she went ahead and created an app to help stylists promote their services and schedule appointments. Eighteen months and $100 million in bookings later, Silicon Valley is paying attention.

Science: For their e-comm startup secret sauce recipe
You may not have heard of Science, but you probably have heard of some of the startups the company has launched: Ellie is giving Lululemon a run for it's money in the athletic wear sector and Cult Cosmetics is gunning down established nail polish brands that haven't yet embraced e-commerce. Science's goal is to launch disruptive e-commerce brands in the fashion and beauty market, and they're not afraid to get their hands dirty. "We're too hands-on just to invest, and too hungry and schizophrenic to focus on one company," CEO Michael Jones told Fast Company.

Snapette: For marrying hyper local shopping and mobile
"It was crazy there wasn't an app to tell me the best stores around and what they have," Snapette Cofounder Sarah Paiji told Fast Company. So she build a local fashion shopping app based on social recommendations that has since expanded into 12 cities around the world, partnering with brands like Nine West, Uniqlo, and Rebecca Minkoff in the process. Mobile shopping is up next.

Birchbox: For getting beauty addicts to shop online
"Brands spend money to connect with consumers, and consumers want the best product," says Founder Katia Beauchamp. "We were asking both sides to change their behavior and it has really amazed us how willing they were." How willing exactly? Fast Company reports that 50% of Birchbox subscribers buy at least one full-size product in the company's online store.

Ahalife: For bringing luxury brands online
Similar to other design-centric sites like Fab, Ahalife is about discovery. The idea is customers can come to one place to shop unusual items curated by industry insiders for unique, inspiring items. Fast Company also gives the site credit for tapping into the luxury market. "Ninety-nine percent of the overall luxury industry is offline," Ahalife founder Shauna Mei told the magazine. Why? "To avoid [their goods landing on] flash-sale sites."

This summary is reblogged from Fast Company's in-depth article on the topic. Head here to read more good stuff on these companies, and head here for Fast Company's complete list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies, 2013 edition.

· The 13 Most Innovative Fashion Companies [Racked]
· All The Fashion People Who Made Fast Company's "Most Creative People In Business" List [Racked]