Internauts Turn Designers into Fashion Site

VogueInStyle and Lucky fashion magazines can dominate banking sales. But in the online media, they lag far behind “Polyvore,” a site far removed from Fifth Avenue by which fashion fans have been showing strong interest.

Polyvore is a fashion magazine with user-generated content and full of user-generated ads. People who use the site can play fashion editors and create collages with clothing, accessories and models from the web. Readers can observe these collages, which the site calls “sets,” and, by clicking on a dress or choker, are taken to the site that sells the product.

Founded by three engineers who used to work for Yahoo, “Polyvore” has focused on attracting more and more users to the service, and the strategy is working. “Polyvore” received more than 835,000 visitors in June, or 25% more than Style.com, operated by Vogue magazine and the InStyle website , according to Complete, a company that analyzes usage trends of the web.

The “Polyvore” movement is also much stronger than the Lucky andHarper’s Bazaar sites. While fashion magazine sites have been struggling to retain audience on the Internet, Polyvore has tripled its traffic in the past 12 months.

Now the company is shifting focus and plans to start billing. The site carries advertising, much like the websites of fashion magazines. But it also earns commission when users click on clothing or make purchases generated by the site on certain e-commerce services, even though only a quarter of the visits generated generate a profit for Polyvore. The company is now trying to build relationships with clothing and accessory sites, and offers instead to load its product catalogs on the site.

“To compete with strong rivals like Vogue or InStyle, the goal can not only be to promote transactions and maximize the proceeds of each visit to our service,” says Peter Fenton, a partner at Benchmark Capital, which invested $ 2, 5 million at Polyvore. “There is also an aspiration side and an entertainment side, two aspects that the other sites so far have not yet been able to exploit in a positive way.”

At the same time, “Polyvore” has been offering a much-needed dose of inspiration to stagnant e-commerce sites. “Online retailing started with the sale of digital cameras,” said Pasha Sadri, co-founder and president. “There are sites that use the same type of software to sell shirts, but that’s not the way they should be sold.” of Polyvore. “Clothes require something much more visual.” And, unlike books, clothing and accessories are purchased as part of a complete suit, although many sites continue to show pieces of clothing individually.

Sadri, who wore velvet pants and was never very fashion savvy, conceived the idea of ​​”Polyvore” in 2007 while working for Yahoo. He was the software engineer who developed Yahoo Pipes, a tool that allows people to gather content from different backgrounds on the web, a process similar to what “Polyvore” allows.

When Polyvore users browse the web, they employ a tool called “Clipper,” which they can download and save in their toolbar, to select images and save them to Polyvore, where any user can employ them to produce a collage.

Trademarks and e-commerce sites may also upload their products to “Polyvore”, although, to date, 95% of the archived images have been uploaded to the site by users. Polyvore assigns a link to the original site. (The service usually receives five requests a week, usually from photographers or painters, to remove an image.)

To create a website, users can move and manipulate images. Polyvore also offers text sources and audio clips from Amazon.com. The 928 thousand registered users create 28 thousand new sets every day. A set inspired by Blake Lively, the actress of “Gossip Girl,” includes a photo of her accompanied by a leather jacket similar to the one she is wearing, available for $ 840 on the Zadig & Voltaire website. Also shows costume accessories such as Coach boots, Ray-Ban glasses and a T-Mobile Sidekick.

In a blog called “Boutonnieres & Bow Ties”, future brides submit photos of their wedding dresses. Samantha Shih, owner of a men’s clothing store called 9Taylor, uses Polyvore to create the wedding dresses, complete with ties and cufflinks, and shows them on her blog growtheology.

To raise revenue, “Polyvore” is attracting fashion companies to sponsor content on the site. Tory Burch promoted her Venice-inspired summer collection through a “Polyvore” contest that invited users to create sets with Venetian themes using the new pieces from her collection.

Lori’s Shoes, a Chicago store that also operates a retail site, recently saw a surge in traffic from Polyvore, about which the company’s chief creative officer, John Coyle Steinbrunner, knew nothing.

Now, Lori’s Shoes wants to advertise on “Polyvore”. “This attracts consumers better than banner ads or volume-paid ads, so attracted users are more loyal,” said Steinbrunner. “Instead of just being buyers, they can help determine the look and aesthetics of shoes.”