Social Media Start-up “zoolook” launches in ginza

Launching a company on the roof of the Chanel building is one hell of a way to make a statement but then entrepreneur, Beno Lavaud, is no stranger to high profile parties.

After co-organizing Tokyo’s exclusive Blacklist events for the past six years Lavaud has a wealth of experience and numerous contacts in the impenetrable world’s of fashion and entertainment.

His recent champagne fueled event high above the glittering streets of Ginza was organized to launch his new venture: “zoolook”, something he calls a “social network for fashion”.

'Zoolook' event in Ginza

After quitting his day job as worldwide retail and merchandising manager at L’Oréal, Lavaud took the leap and started his own venture.

Initially Lavaud’s smart phone application, developed with a team of international professionals and celebrities in the beauty and fashion industry, will offer free tips and hints to women on how to look good in pictures, with weekly updates.

'Zoolook' event in Ginza

“Zoolook’s first stage is to help people improve the quality of their pictures on SNS [social networks].” he says. “Now with cloud computing, pictures can be kept forever. When you look back fifty years from now, you may be shocked.”

“We felt that more and more people are uploading pictures but many Japanese girls still do the ‘peace’ sign with bad lighting so image just ends up looking terrible. We thought, maybe we can start from there.”

'Zoolook' event in Ginza

“So we launched an application, kind of a ‘Beauty snap school’, a place where you can learn how to make better photos of yourself.”

To get attention and credibility Lavaud asked his friends to help, many of whom are famous in their fields, including photographers, models and stylists.

“I asked them just to give me tips on how to pose, and who could be better than models to give you fashion tips?”

'Zoolook' event in Ginza

The weekly chapters are written by professionals, including Maya Murofushi (Miss World Super Model 2010), ex trainer of Miss Universe Japan Steven A. Haynes, Erika Angyal, official nutritionist to Miss Universe Japan, Yuko Sumida Jackson (former Michael Jackson dancer), make up artist Rika Tanaka and fashion photographer Cassio.

'Zoolook' event in Ginza

“Every week we have a new chapter and women can apply them instantly. They are only little tips, but they make a big difference.”

Zoolook may be unique but it has a lot of competition, the number of social media users worldwide is astounding, Bloomberg reported that Japanese social network Mixi alone has “22 million customers”, with newcomers Gree and Yahoo!-Mobage rapidly gaining market share and of course global leader Facebook is still way in the lead with over 750 million registered users.

'Zoolook' event in Ginza

In his best selling book Socialnomics, Erik Qualman said “Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are fundamentally changing the way businesses and consumers behave.” With zoolook, Lavaud is hoping to spark something just as revolutionary as those pioneering U.S. start-ups.

“My passion is to share Japan with the world. We have great designers here, amazing fashion, everyone talks about the Tokyo look.” he says. “Japanese are so shy, it’s a shame, they have so many things to share with the world. I want to help.”

'Zoolook' event in Ginza

And why the name Zoolook?

“The name is very simple, I wanted something with ‘look’ in the name because of fashion. I thought of look book, Facebook or something, then I came up with ‘zoo’. Fashion is really all about different communities with different styles, so ‘zoo’ is perfect to express this.”

“Zoolook is a social community that you can visit to look at different types of fashions, and the extension ‘.me’ because it is a social network; dot myself. When I Googled the name I discovered that it is by coincidence also the name of an album by Jean Michel Jarre, he was a real electronic pioneer, so I really loved the connection.”

Lavaud’s project boldly attempts to link fashion designers, celebrities and consumers in a totally new way and after Zoolook’s user base is established, the second phase of the project will be launched.

Although Japan is a leader in terms of design and creativity, the country tends to be a closed ecosystem, through Zoolook, it may be a foreigner who broadcasts the hidden beauty of Japan to the world.

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