Boutiques

Google's foray into fashion has been was foretold by a lot of hoo-ha-ing and circling rumours, and now with the official launch of the site Boutiques.com, it has been prompting a fair bit of discussion.  Thus far, I like Cathy Horyn's tech-based analysis of it, as well as road-testing the site to reveal that rather than aesthetic pizazz, the site is about what we know Google for – search and a LOT of options for it. 

I was asked to curate one of many blogger/celebrity boutiques that they have lined up to, which I suppose capitalise on the fact that consumers may be inspired to buy their preferred bloggers/celebrity's fashion choices.  I'm not in any way presumptuous as to think anybody is going to be like "Oh… Susie likes it…where's that credit card of mine?"  It is however interesting to peer into people's product-based taste.  From my perspective, partaking in the project was rooted with a few reasons really…

a) It's Google.  Do you say no to Google, website that basically controls 95% of my online life…

b) To have everything (well most things – see point d) under one site makes gathering e-shopping choices an easier task in effect.  I do trawl sites but have a habit of not bookmarking or remembering where I've been to.  It's good FOR ME to look at what I'm liking in the thousands of thousands of things which as a list presents itself with traits, trends and patterns that I didn't even realise I was conforming to.

c) The blog tends to be about looking into the future, looking at designers in terms of their collections, their art and their craft as well as more random ramblings about more specific things.  I don't really log onto Net A Porter, search through my favourite things and stick them up on the blog going "Hey – here's what I'm LOVING this week…".  So in effect, this is sort of a proper outlet to single out products in a way that I don't really do on the blog.  It's dream wish-listing that I suppose could be expanded into a blog post once in a while but on a regular basis, it's good to have something that is more systematic.  Perhaps there might be a future function where you can upload comments about the product or link to pictures of you wearing the actual product itself (should be you be so lucky as to buy the damn things…) to make it more well-rounded.  For now, it's actually sort of quite indulgent and fun to pick stuff out and make it as basic as "This is What I Love" without the blabbering text that litters this blog. 

d) Did I mention it's Google?  Which can only mean tweaks and changes a-plenty on Boutiques.com which I think will have to be an ever-evolving site in order to placate a demanding consumer base whose tastes within fashion will be more and more savvy.  For me, I'd like to see an even greater diversity of product choice, especially with my leanings towards independent designers, to make this an even bigger mammoth of a designer/boutique aggregator.  I'm a search bunny that will meticulously comb through things to get what I want though understandbly not everyone is as search-aggressive as I am….

I'm interested to see how the 'Follow' and 'Following' aspect of works.  Will there be enough consumer uptake to the point where it's like Twitter and you're following 100+ boutiques and genuinely interested in what what they're loving/buying.  This I think will depend on how often high profile Boutique.com users update.  I for one will be combing the site at least once a week to make sure mine is updated and to remove anything that for whatever reason I'm not that into anymore.  For me, it's a selfish excercise and as I said, I rather like the process of organising in-season loves.  I'd also like to ensure that I have a diverse range of price points on my selection.  If I can't reflect things like my taste in vintage (though I think bigger vintage e-stores could also be incorporated into the site…) then at the very least, I should be able to choose from the full Topshop, ASOS selections etc to give a give a more well-rounded view.

Only time will tell whether it will deep-impact the way consumers shop.  Of course the personal niggles and queries with the site I've cited ehre, are as a dedicated online shopper and I think everyone's needs in e-shopping are different.  Let's see if Google can cater for all and specialise all in one go…

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Comments (27)

  1. Marissa June says:

    I’m looking forward to the changes and improvements too. I could do without the social networking aspect, since the project is so obviously not about that. It seems like they’re trying to pretend it’s not e-commerce by shrouding it in yet another site for ‘community’.
    Having said that, it’s been fun to play around with it. So far I’ve been browsing through my recommended products and ‘hating’ the prices.

  2. edoardo says:

    I love the Philip Lim shoes…That designer is so creative and maybe it is his youth sense of fashion that gives him all that creativity!
    http://fashiondoesntexist.blogspot.com/

  3. Joy D. says:

    I am excited because I too have a love affair with Google and their acquisitions. It is also kind of fun to see this idea realize as I had some insider knowledge about this several months ago.
    And apparently, Google loves you back.

  4. Great overview. I really enjoyed reading your take on Google’s new project. I created my own boutique just to play around and see what all the buzz is about. And I totally agree that incorporating commenting and feedback as well as indie designers and vintage shops would make the site a lot more interesting.
    Kendra
    http://closetconfections.com/

  5. GawgusThings says:

    Oooh, will have to have a further look at this..!

  6. designd says:

    Whilst I was initially literally tripping over my fingers trying to google this site and find out EXACTLY what it had to offer, and how close to the real persons style it would be, after a few moments I started thinking something altogether different. Google, as you say has the mighty power to deliver whatever our little fingers choose to tappity onto the keyboard, BUT the results of each search only give us the unsatisfying (to me) un-styled flat garments. These, when neatly arranged in photoshopped boxes do not at all communicate the originality nor the vision that you create (I’m sorry I just can’t bring myself to use my beloved curate in this context) in your outfits. They look plain and run of the mill, and to be quite honest some of them I looked at on screen and exhaled ‘nooo…she’d never wear that!’ testament that it is the styling and the independent collaging that you do that makes your aesthetic appealing. So with the best effort in the world boutiques.com will never be able to offer what your ‘followers’ really want, and in their constant quest for it could do exactly as you suppose not, and pick up that credit card influenced by that Susie Bubble stamp of approval. A very shrewd Google move.
    BUT what would be great, would be a leafy anthology of your outfits…?! but then it’d be less about commerce and more about the Bubble brand.

  7. Lucy Lawson says:

    It would be brilliant to get vintage online retailers involved!
    Lucy
    http://tiptoptip.wordpress.com

  8. moi says:

    Agree with so much from ‘designd’- this is a luxury and high-end nightmare. Zero control over content and it compromises the decorum of a high-end site (Luisaviaroma, TheCorner, Net-a-Porter, Antonioli, Seven, Jades, Coggles et al…), who invest heavily with great endeavour to provide a brilliant shopping experience online. I’ve no idea how profitable this could be, but it does not compare close with ‘Far-Fetch’ and will require some serious work to deliver the results google will demand. I am very skeptic, but you never know… as designd suggests, this is heavily reliant on models from ‘brand bubble’, ‘brand bryanboy’, ‘brand bleach black’ etc… for me it devalues the product at the centre of the project and diminishes what the majority of e-tailers are trying to build, which is stronger emphasis on communication and relations with customers through some for of narrative, not a yellow pages on peoples taste in clothes to trawl through.

  9. moi says:

    Oh and yea… according to google, men don’t wear designer then? oooooops.

  10. susie_bubble says:

    Great points from people and I’m in no way advocating that this is some sort of one-stop-drop for e-commerce. But I’m a natural trawler and will spend hours going through MANY sites, links etc to get what I want. However, we need to distinguish between different customer sets – those that want a more cultivated experience online and also are generally knowledgeable about product (like you MOI!) and then the mass customer who is after a specific style of ‘pant’. Product devaluation? Perhaps. But all in the name of commerce which of course benefits the retailers involved (hence why so many have signed up and many more are to come…). They want numbers, traffic which Google can deliver. This is about mass and the cultivated/curated element comes from the idea of celebrities etc doing their own boutiques. Still, the level of customisation and product presentation as designd pointed out is limited but like designd also said, I’m not sure Google are after creating highly customised solutions for their Boutique ‘peeps’ – what’s in it for them afterall?
    I’ll always be a fan of a curated, content-filled e-store but on another level, I also enjoy the product accumulation process that Boutiques.com provides. Everyone has such particular shopping habits but I think Google has pinpointed how the ‘majority’ shop and that may not include me, moi or a whole lot of other hardcore fashion lovers… who knows? We’ll see – I’m standing by my own selfish reasons because I still think it’s useful for me as a list-compiler… it’ such a simple function but sort of useful when you get into the full selection of the site…
    That won’t stop me from going to independent sites though or even the source site themselves for other reasons…

  11. I was playing around with the site and I have to say that I found it very sterile and unimaginative. I was really hoping for something more and can you imagine if they had polyvore integration too?

  12. moi says:

    I think commercially google are looking at the bigger picture, their add service is under serious scrutiny and those adds followed me around like an annoying lost kitten (I hate cats) wherever I went online (eventually disabled my cookies). Ad space contributes massively to google profits and with the furore surrounding Facebook and its email optimised attack on add space that google virtually controls as a market, google are maybe juggling their eggs between baskets. I just firmly believe that when it comes to high-end/luxury, the independent sites will ultimately come out on top in delivering the platform required to attract the game rolling, dice throwing, savvy shoppers with serious cash. On a positive note… Brand Bubble reigns above the rest!

  13. moi says:

    Sorry, forgot to mention I actually think having high-profile bloggers or well known personalities curating a selection, or styling a selection as Chi-San did for Coggles is a great piece of marketing and great for people involved. Whilst also driving sales…

  14. Tania says:

    That is a genius idea and I hope Google does well with it! There are other websites where you can do similar browsing, but as you say, it’s Google!

  15. blog mode says:

    thanks, I am going to try it!

  16. Reve De Oro says:

    I guess nobody should be surprised about the Google development. Once they catch wind of big market share hovering somewhere, they are going to pitch a “We E-Commerce for You Here!!” sign nearby.
    Naturally, it will likely catch on and be a huge sensation. Being able to point to what someone is wearing, albeit with a mouse, and say, “I want that!” and get it, well…that is going to work, let’s face it.
    We Love “instant.”
    At House of EVARO, we have noticed a dramatic increase in online sales, even with the economic slump. We are gearing up for more of the same over the Holiday season…perhaps we shouldn’t be launching our premieres at this time of year!
    Google is definitely onto something, though, as we have fortified our online sales division just for the upcoming holiday season alone. Let’s face it, it is a LOT easier to buy gifts or treat yourself from the comfort and luxury of your own home/chosen environment that battle the stores hoping to find treasure!
    Besides, anything purchased after midnight is pure cream!
    The drawback? All that “convenience” comes at the expense of having our data mined by, you guessed it: Google.
    Reve

  17. wendy says:

    ooooh go google! anything to make ammends for their caffeine update :)
    http://www.wendyhouserocks.com

  18. diane says:

    Jury’s still out.

  19. I trawl through sites and love the fact that most of the options out there are available to me on one site. The fact that i can use a polyvore.com style search to find things that are tailored within my budget, colour scheme and even silhouette saves me sifting through things that dont appeal to me.
    The data mining doesnt scare me, our whole lives are on the webbernet and youre being served information tailored to you without you even knowing it half the time. I agree it could be slightly more creative and inspirational in its layout but for function over form right now i think its brilliant. And the fact that its run by the people who pretty much own my internet usage ( i even ask google the percentage of things and who the drummer of a band is – google – she owns my knowledge) means it will be updated regularly, have money backing its improvements and will hopefully use all its analytics to create a future proof shopping device that based on its users needs.
    Finally google are using their technology for something i can understand and relate to!

  20. n says:

    It’s an intersting start…I wonder how it will develop?
    (http://itsonlysight.blogspot.com/)

  21. lolita dress says:

    You do a great share with us.I love the design!

  22. Brigadeiro says:

    What an interesting and brilliant concept! Off to check it out further ;)
    xx

  23. “I do trawl sites but have a habit of not bookmarking or remembering where I’ve been to.” I love the honesty of your posts, Susie. Your candour is one of the reasons I keep coming back.

  24. I’ll be the one going ‘Oh, Susie says yes? Where’s ma credit card at!’ – because I think your taste is v good xxx
    http://reallyliteral.blogspot.com/

  25. So so excited for this collaboration. Thanks for the great coverage! http://loscruggs.blogspot.com/

  26. I am very excited for this, so far liking the aesthetic of the site.

  27. Janssen says:

    That dress on the upper right photo is a winner. Funky yet sexy.

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