Fashion and clothing seem to be in a very distant, very different realm from technology. However, with people being more and more reliant on the Internet and spending a bigger chunk of their day surfing the web, it really does seem more feasible for the fashion industry to take its wares to the World Wide Web. That’s just what many fashion/clothing startup companies are doing these days.

Notable Outfits for Online Outfits

There are some new fashion companies that are turning to tech using some interesting approaches. Take Shoptiques, for example. The site, which was launched back in March after several months in the beta stages, is geared toward providing online shoppers with a unique selection of clothes from various local boutiques in the United States, from Cali to New York. This provides easy access for people looking for unique styles while still making designer clothing available at local boutique prices.

The approach is not as simple as taking a product and making a website for it; Shoptiques actually partners with the boutiques that come up with the clothing and basically puts up a platform for them to get these products online, rather than the boutiques having to put up some form of e-commerce on their own. In return, shoppers will find unique clothing that addresses what Shoptiques founder Olga Vidisheva felt was a fundamental need for women to not be caught wearing the same outfit as others in the same room or setting.

Of course, you can’t discuss fashion e-commerce without mentioning the Gilt Groupe, which started out in 2007 and is now frequented by some 3.5 million users. The site showcases sale items in various categories, including clothing, merchandise, home decors, food, and even travel. Around mid-2011, the company made it possible for members to shop through Facebook and even offered deals in advance through the social network before they became available at the main site.

Basically, the Gilt Groupe is one of the more successful startups to come out of the New York area. This success was helped by the rapid response to technology and taking advantage of what the Internet and mobile devices can offer. For one, the company was quick to offer iPad apps and offered promos to generate more interest and expand its membership.

Potential for Success

How are these startups different from the Silicon Valley tech counterparts they are trying to emulate? Is it feasible for these companies to apply the same principles that have propelled other companies such as RingCentral to success?

For one thing, the market for tech, from all types of software to hardware such as business telephone systems, is quite different from the market for clothing. While there are no figures, it’s likely that the market for clothes is bigger because it is such a basic human need. What startups can do is to find their own niche by identifying gaps in the market, kind of like what Shoptiques did. It’s not easy, but with the proper planning and the right amount of patience, people can come up with viable ideas that can really hit it big.

Embracing technology is necessary if businesses like these clothing companies and services want to succeed in today’s world. E-commerce sites and even online deal or coupon sites have a reach that physical stores have, and only the effective use of technology will allow startups to reach their respective target markets.

Right now, we’re starting to see more clothing- and fashion-related e-commerce sites and startups emerging from the woodwork, and for good reason. There’s a big market that remains untapped, and retailers or entrepreneurs would be wise to get in on the action before the Web gets saturated with dime-a-dozen clones.

Article by Nancy Perkins

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