On Friday, an anonymous New York fashion PR who calls him/herself No bullshit (actual Twitter handle @NoBtotheS) Tweeted “Breaking news: google is launching an ecommerce site with shop in shops by major designers #google #theyrgonnabepissed #geturshopon”. The Tweet prompted a flurry of coverage, with the penny apparently then dropping on all those who had received invites to Google’s “High Tech Fuses with High Fashion” party this coming Wednesday in SoHo, that the launch revolved around fashion e-tail. In fact, it had already been reported that Google planned to upgrade its shopping services to better compete in the US$140billion e-commerce market by deploying the image-recognition technology of recent acquisition Like.com to enable consumers to do comparison shopping. “We are hosting an exclusive fashion party to celebrate our partners” is all Google would tell WWD on Friday re the launch (see invitation below). Well frockwriter can fill in a few blanks. Our sources say that the new Google fashion initiative is called Boutiques.com and boasts not only online boutiques selling merchandise offered by various designers and retailers, but a large number of curated "boutiques" selling the looks worn by celebrities and other influencers.
There at least 19 participating American designers, from Prabal Gurung to Oscar de la Renta, with participating retailers including Shopbop, Nêt-à-Porter, Nordstrom, Selfridges and Bluefly.
The featured celebrities include Lady Gaga, Victoria Beckham, Emma Watson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anna Wintour, Rachel Zoe and even Michelle Obama.
These high-profilers, presumably, have no idea they are included in the mix – they are simply being used as style inspirations for Google's designer label boutiques, as curated by Google insiders, who pull together products with a similar look to those sported by the celebs. No different to your regular “Get her look” feature in any fashion magazine in other words... except that in this case, you will be able to buy the product on the spot, with Google pocketing a percentage of sales.
Did we mention bloggers?
A handful of high profile regulars have, we understand, been invited to curate their own Boutiques.com boutiques – in exchange for a one-off payment of (low) five figures.
Boutiques.com gets Google into the highend fashion shopping game – seven months after rival eBay launched its own fashion microsite. One facet of the latter is Fashion Voice, which includes recommendations from six US stylists: Annabel Tollman, Britt Bardo, Estee Stanley, Karen Bard, Kate Young and former Sex and the City stylist Rebecca Weinberg.
Although Google is the world’s biggest search engine, it has thus far lagged behind in the e-commerce stakes. The company launched Froogle in 2002, rebranding it as Google Product Search in 2007 – which, although seeing a 123percent spike in activity to 226 million searches in the third quarter of this fiscal year, remains dwarfed by eBay and Amazon.
Google's online payments system Google Checkout did not launch until 2006, eight years after the launch of PayPal, which was acquired by eBay in 2002 and is now the market leader.
photo composite: frockwriter