Crowd-sourcing in Fashion

If you're looking at this article from the blog's homepage, then you can see a bunch of retail articles on the right. They are assembled from all over the web using Yahoo Pipes, a cool technology that combines sources of data from the web. I created a reusable pipe, called RetailFeed, that pulls articles from my favorites news sites and blogs.

What if your customers could do something similar for fashion? The creators of Yahoo Pipes have created a website, called Polyvore, where people can combine fashion pieces into outfits they call "sets." Last month, 825,000 unique visitors either created sets or viewed them. Each article within the set can be clicked, and the user is taken to the originating site, presumably to purchase the item.

TaylorSwiftSet.JPGThe interesting thing about fashion is that no item really stands alone -- they are always combined into outfits So instead of selling individual articles of clothing and accessories as most e-commerce sites do, combine items into outfits. And better yet, let customers do the creative work and then decide which outfits are most popular. This is another way to harness the wisdom of crowds.

As the NY Times reported in their article, there are several avenues for Polyvore to make a profit, but my favorite is to license the technology to fashion retailers so that their customers can create their own sets.

I don't know squat about fashion, so I picked a set from the celebrity list. The Taylor Swift inspired set designed by Karine Minzon Wilson from Brazil is shown to the right. It includes items from marieclaire.com, elle.com, sandalworld.com, and fantasyjewelrybox.com. 774 people liked this set, and it was viewed by about 3,000 people since its creation two weeks ago.

This is a great way to socialize about outfits, and drive additional shopping traffic.

Comments:

very nice post..........

Posted by iphone crowds on November 12, 2009 at 11:00 PM CST #

Great post (sorry I'm late catching it) on crowdsourcing and fashion. Personally, I have been really wowed by how successful Polyvore has been engaging consumers in creating their own outfits.

However, turning this into a business model that goes beyond advertising may continue to prove tricky. Unlike in slower lifecycle businesses, the data being created about user preferences has less value in fashion. This is because the items have already been bought and distributed to stores. In many cases, these items will never be produced again.

At StyleHop, we are helping fashion companies by crowdsourcing which items are best at the design prototype stage - before they have produced the item and committed inventory dollars. This has real value as fashion retailers reduce their stockouts of hot items and don't buy too much of poor performing styles.

Posted by David Reinke on August 05, 2010 at 08:46 AM CDT #

Hey I just wanted to drop a line and say I really like your website. I have been looking at it for quite some time now and i thought it was about time i dropped a comment and said hello.

Posted by john on October 21, 2010 at 07:58 PM CDT #

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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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