The Fashion Statement: Google's Fashion Engine
Who among us hasn't typed in "nude stiletto" in a search engine box and gotten back enough Lucite heels to make a stripper swoon? Well, things are looking up. Yesterday, Google launched Boutiques.com, and it greatly improves the search process when you're shopping for fashion items online.
Google posted the back story on its blog: "A year and half ago, our team (which at the time was part of Like.com) started to wonder if we could create a better experience for people to shop online. We jokingly called ourselves the computer nerds and fashion nerds (and a few of us were both). So, we set out to create a new way to browse, discover and shop for soft goods online."
The site uses visual search technology developed by Like.com (which Google acquired in August) using images to drive the search rather than text typed into a search box. You can teach the site your style by either taking a quiz or sifting through images while hitting "More My Style" tabs. When you're finished creating your own "boutique," it then helps filter out items you dislike and adds more of what you'd like. It's kind of a Pandora for fashionistas.
You can check out other peoples' boutiques, too. Celebrity boutiques by the likes of Carey Mulligan, Ginnifer Goodwin and even Lauren Conrad have already been a big draw. By the end of the day, Mulligan counted 329 followers, Goodwin posted 100 followers and Conrad had 68.
There's also a spot for fashion blogger boutiques which features BryanBoy and Susie Bubble. Conspicuously absent are boutiques by professional fashion editors who are increasingly being studied by women around the globe as style setters.
Probably the most valuable thing about Boutiques.com is its ability to refine searches to your taste. But it can also suggest accessories or other pieces to complete the look. Reportedly a fashion stylist spent many hours teaching the search engine rules like heavily patterned dresses won't go with heavily patterned handbags or horizontal stripes don't go with vertical stripes -- you know, things your mama taught you.
Here's the thing though: Often designers break these kind of rules or suddenly somewhere on the street it becomes hip to mix patterns. So it remains to be seen whether Boutiques.com can keep up.
But Boutiques.com has us all pondering the question my friend Adam Tschorn of the Los Angeles Times asked this morning, "Are algorithms the new stylist?"