The Web is ideal for browsing and buying books and electronics, but for personal items like clothing that shoppers prefer to try on, it has its limitations.
Fashion search engine Like.com aims to address those shortcomings with Couturious.com. While other sites let shoppers assemble outfits, Couturious’ founder said the new venue simulates the dressing-room experience. For example, using Like.com’s homegrown technology, users can tuck in or unbutton a shirt on a 3-D model.
The site taps into the social aspect of shopping, too; like other online fashion destinations, users can sign in to Facebook to share their favorite looks with others.
With Couturious, Like.com is taking aim at venues like Polyvore that let shoppers create outfits using apparel from around the Web. With 1.3 million monthly unique visitors as of January, per Compete.com, Polyvore has a bigger audience than the sites of some women’s fashion magazines. (For its part, Polyvore claims 6 million monthly uniques.)
“Polyvore kind of proved there are a lot of people who want to go online and build outfits,” said Munjal Shah, chief executive officer of Like.com. “We looked at it and said, ‘That’s neat. There’s demand there, but can we take it to the next level?’ We thought it would be so great if you could look at something that would look like a real model.”
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Polyvore’s newly named CEO, pointed out that users come to Polyvore for various purposes. “There are people who aren’t looking for the dressing-room experience,” she said. “They create for themselves or don’t, and they browse.” She added that she’s eager to bring tools and innovation to the site. “We’re still in the early innings,” she said. “It’s part of what makes the category so interesting.”
Couturious, which officially launches Feb. 25, works on a revenue-sharing model with retailers and designers, whose items are promoted at the venue but sold on their own sites. Six designers are prominently featured, including Cynthia Rowley and Tory Burch. Shah also plans to seek advertising from endemic as well as beauty and packaged-goods advertisers. Already, Like.com has run ads from Barneys, Nordstrom and Nike.
To be sure, Couturious has some limits in its current form. Users can choose from eight models that differ by ethnicity but not by body type. The site also has only a few thousand items to choose from.
Shah said Couturious plans to add more body types after surveying users on their preferences. As for inventory, Shah hopes to have 100,000 items by year’s end. To that end, he’s in talks with retailers and designers about embedding Couturius’ technology in their sites in exchange for having their inventory added to Couturious.
“More is always better,” he said.