Making fashion more accessible to men

Cura App
Project Overview
CURA aims to aid young men in learning about style through practical activities. The app enables users to educate themselves on style practices to help them define their personal style. CURA is designed to evoke a reflection in the user on their style journey rather than teach them what to do.
My Contributions
I took complete ownership of the project, from the initial ideation to presenting it to my mentor for the semester. Additionally, I oversaw user testing, conducted thorough research, and handled the product design process end-to-end.
There is a disconnect between men and the world of fashion.

Fashion is an inaccessible market for men unless you fit into the narrow target demographic. There are very few effective resources to help men determine their style. The majority of resources available don't consider diversity, CURA is built around inclusivity and finding confidence in ownership, choice, and thought.
Secondary Research
Research indicates that dressing well significantly enhances a man's self-confidence, encompassing aspects of good hygiene, attention to detail, professionalism, and, above all, self-assurance (Billingsley, 2007). Despite the misconception that dressing well may compromise masculinity, it is primarily about enhancing one's life and being taken seriously. For instance, commercial real estate broker Hunter Greene attests that a polished appearance significantly influences how he is perceived in his profession (Billingsley, 2007). However, many men grapple with changing their wardrobe, hindering the realization of these benefits.The correlation between dressing well and positive self-perception is evident, as expressed happiness in one's appearance translates into confident outward behavior (Acorn Fabrics, 2017).

Stylist Lindsey Shore emphasizes that respect, confidence, and self-empowerment can all begin with one's commitment to apparel (Williams, 2013). Despite these advantages, men often face psychological barriers, fearing judgment and lacking clear style improvement goals (Chan, 2015). Additionally, societal expectations, perpetuated by media marketing, contribute to body shaming and influence men to hide behind clothing that doesn't foster confidence (Fell, 2014).While various resources exist to help men enhance their style, including books like "Men and Style" by David Coggins and platforms like Mr. Porter, many men struggle to leverage these tools effectively (Sacawa, 2017).

Overcoming challenges such as societal pressures, psychological barriers, and a lack of clear goals is crucial in encouraging men to embrace change and feel more confident in their personal style. A large majority of men put psychological barriers on themselves when it comes to their style. They are afraid of how they will be perceived by others and what they will say. Changing the way you dress can change the way you feel.

Primary research was conducted to determine if users would express their thoughts on fashion and reflect on their clothes-shopping experiences.The perception is that men do not enjoy the shopping experience. They do not have resources available to them for learning style and therefore have put up barriers. The research determines that the four main barriers to men learning style are: Cost, Time, Overwhelming, and Importance.

Primary Research
Secondary Research Findings

Traits such as race, sexuality, age, size should be considered when marketing towards men. “The use of diverse male models in fashion advertising might help alleviate men’s negative body image while simultaneously benefiting brands. Researchers have found that female consumers have positive responses to models of diverse sizes, ages and races in fashion advertisements." There is no harm in attempting to introduce diversity into fashion advertisements for men but brands aren’t doing it.
Primary Research Findings

I conducted primary research through surveys targeting users to assess their thoughts on fashion and shopping experiences. Additionally, I analyzed various men's fashion resources, including a review of five popular YouTube channels with high viewership. The findings revealed that none of these channels are inclusive, lacking diversity in their content.
Understanding the user
Make activities at varying levels of difficulty
Include a section for users to reflect on the activity
Reassure users that they are not alone and that there is value in learning what they don't like
Create way for users to see all of the activities they've completed and log their progress
In this phase, I utilized a strategy to make things clearer. I wrote down "how might we" questions on sticky notes to spot and highlight important moments in the user journey that needed some thinking and fixing. This helped me break down the complicated parts of the user experience into simple questions that I could act on. Following that, I moved to another set of sticky notes. On these, I came up with practical solutions to tackle the problems identified in the ones above. This allowed me to first spotting the challenges, and then crearte solutions to make things better for the users
Early Concepts
Cura underwent its initial design in 2019, and in 2023, I took the initiative to rebrand and redesign the platform. The goal was to infuse a more contemporary feel, aligning with user expectations. If we take a glimpse back at the original 2018 design, it was designed for an iPhone 8. This was my primary device for at the time and was used for testing during the development stages. The recent redesign marks a departure from a dense, dark user interface, opting for a lighter and more user-friendly aesthetic, enhancing overall comprehension for users.
Final Outcomes
The inception of this mobile app was driven by the aspiration to provide accessible fashion guidance for men at all times. Positioned as a constant companion, the app seamlessly integrates into the user's routine, ensuring a supportive presence. The development process was informed by research, leading to a conceptual framework that underwent rigorous testing in multiple user rounds. Following invaluable feedback on design, user experience, and functionalities, the app's design underwent thoughtful iterations, culminating in the creation of the final, refined design. This iterative approach ensures that the app is not just informative but also tailored to meet the evolving needs and preferences of its users.
Learning & Growth
Developing a product for the subjective realm of fashion posed a considerable challenge, especially when prioritizing inclusion as the guiding principle of the project. Throughout this endeavor, I found myself navigating through numerous assumptions, ultimately recognizing the paramount importance of user testing.

This invaluable practice not only provided essential direction for the product but also underscored the significance of incorporating user feedback. Engaging directly with the target users allowed me to gain firsthand insights, which I applied to enhance CURA.

Managing a project of this magnitude single-handedly, assuming all roles, proved to be demanding. This experience underscored the critical role of effective time management and prompted a refinement of my design process.
Key Takeaways
Navigating men's fashion can be intimidating, lacking a clear playbook for learning.

Consider the challenge users face and explore diverse ideas on initiating their journey into fashion and personal style.

Existing resources often fall short, being one-dimensional and exclusive. Designing for a diverse audience requires keeping the user in focus and acknowledging that the design isn't for oneself.

Prioritize understanding users' needs and pain points through research, ideation, and empathy to create precise solutions for their challenges.