Google to Launch New Fashion Website, Report Says

PHOTO Google to Launch New Fashion Website, Report Says
High Tech Fuses With High Fashion at Google Event This Week
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Google doesn't just want to dominate the Internet, it wants to rock the catwalk too.

"High Tech Fuses With High Fashion" reads an invitation from the tech giant for an event Wednesday -- and insiders say the smart bets are on a new Google-backed e-commerce site, reportedly called Boutiques.com.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABCNews.com, but according to Women's Wear Daily, the new website will let visitors not only browse virtual boutiques set up by celebrities and designers but create -- and share -- their own personalized online shops.

Citing anonymous sources familiar with Google's plans, Women's Wear said the search company had invited big name designers, such as Oscar de la Renta and Isaac Mizrahi, as well as stars, to create their own boutiques on the new site.

"Visitors will not actually complete a purchase on Google, but will click through to a brand's online store or a retailer who carries the item, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Net-a-porter or Yoox," according to Women's Wear Daily.

Fashion Blogger: Google's New Site to Launch With Celebrity, Designer Partners

Verena von Pfetten, editor-in-chief of the fashion website Stylite.com, said that Google's plans for its new site sound similar to fashion sites already on the Web.

ShopStyle and Polyvore, for example, let users search for clothing and accessories, share their personal styles and then click-through to purchase items from Web-based retailers.

"Obviously, Google is much bigger, and if they can get the bigger names, that's what makes a difference," she said.

On Google's new site, she said, it seems that celebrities and designers could host virtual boutiques, including their favorite picks, and then take a cut of the profits.

Fashion blogger Frockwriter reported today that the site currently includes boutiques hosted by about 76 celebrities, 27 retailers, 55 designers and 12 bloggers. Among the Boutiques.com partners are designers Diane von Furstenberg and Anna Sui, and retailers Shopbop, Nêt-à-Porter, Nordstrom, Selfridges, Bluefly and Forever 21, Frockwriter said.

New Google Fashion Site Could Use Visual Matching Technology

Boutiques.com is currently in private beta mode and is accessible only to those with a password. But von Pfetten said the site is owned by Like.com, which Google acquired this summer.

She said Like.com used visual matching technology to help visitors find similar-looking clothes and accessories. If, for example, you liked a high-end dress, the site could help you find a similar dress at a lower price.

Von Pfetten said Google's new site could use the same technology, but she said that might also raise questions.

Forever 21 (one of the reported partners), for example, has been criticized for re-creating designer styles, and she said it's possible that other designer partners might not take too kindly to technology that could undercut their sales by directing consumers to cheaper, copycat designs.

"I'm curious to see what designers say, whether designers will complain about that," she said.

Despite an already competitive landscape, she said Google's reputation suggests its new fashion site could hold a lot of promise.

But she said that in fashion e-commerce, success often hinges on consumer trust, the people involved and a site's design.

"If it doesn't look high-end or particularly aesthetically pleasing," she said, "I think they could run into problems."

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