"What is 'apps?'" Christian Louboutin once asked a writer at The Wall Street Journal, before admitting, “I'm a very bad technician. Technology, zero.” Of course, Louboutin isn't the only Luddite in the fashion industry, whose frosty attitude toward all things tech is just starting to thaw. As more designers warm to the idea of e-commerce, they're also getting hip to the smartphone frontier. Several biggies have rolled out iPhone apps to show off their collections, and, in rarer instances, allow users to shop. And just last week, eBay, which pretty much has the web-retail sector cornered, introduced a free fashion app, which allows users to browse and purchase more than 20 million fashion items, as well as "try on" clothes and build virtual closets.
We sifted through the glut of fashion-centric apps to see which ones are worth your precious downloading time; click ahead to see our top ten picks for the iPhone. (Sorry, Android users, but your options are still limited. Download nymag.com's free blog app for now and pray that all those pretentious iGeeks get their just desserts in an Apple recall.)
This bare-bones app pulls photos from some of the Internet's most respected style blogs, including the Sartorialist, Face Hunter, and Lookbook. The sorting functionality — or lack thereof — leaves something to be desired, but if you're just seeking quick-hit eye candy, there's no better way to see loads of style snaps all in one spot. The app is available two ways: free with advertising or 99 cents without. Download it here!
Diane Von Furstenberg
While many designers with apps remain skeptical about mobile commerce, Von Furstenberg told W, "We already do so many things from our phones, so shopping is a natural progression." Accordingly, DVF's app allows users to shop via a "Looks We Love" section or by thumbing through the collections — albeit not 24/7. (Our nighttime request to purchase a one-shoulder floral dress wasn't addressed until regular business hours.) Still, DVF gets props for rounding out the app with Facebook-sharing capabilities and access to her Twitter feed. Download it here!
This innovative brand app allows you to mix and match Gap items with pieces already hanging in your closet. Create outfits using uploaded photos or use the "Mixer" to browse Gap products and create head-to-toe new looks. Shake your phone and the Mixer will generate a random combination of pieces, including shoes and accessories. The "Community" function allows you to share your uploaded looks, as well as check out combos other app users are creating. On the downside, if you're near a Gap location, you can also supposedly "unlock" a special promotion on your phone; we tried, but were lamely told to "check back soon for a new offer." Download it here!
Glamour Ask a Stylist
Wang or Wu? Jeggings or jorts? Dr. Scholl's with socks or without? These are the types of pressing sartorial questions one might bounce off a trusted friend — or one of Glamour's on-call app stylists. Here's how it works: Browse their mini-bios (some are from glamour.com, others from Craigslist), choose the one most up your aesthetic alley, upload your outfit pic and/or inquiry, and wait. Our selected stylist responded to our day-to-night dilemma fifteen minutes after we fired off our request. And, in true women's-mag fashion, we were given an extra boost of confidence ("You'll look awesome wherever you go!"). A solid bet for the indecisive. Download it here!
Scroll through more than 50,000 kicks in the shoe-porn Finder, or search the sea of shoes by style and designer. The app indicates which pairs are on sale and connects you straight to buy-it-now retailers. The app is free, functional, and offers decent-size closeups of each item, though we hope its creators introduce better browsing filters (like color, size, heel height, material, etc.) with the next update. Download it here!
Lucky at Your Service
This free app uses GPS, e-commerce, and flesh-and-blood staffers to hunt down editor-approved clothing, shoes, accessories, and beauty products. Once you've settled on that to-die-for Nanette Lepore dress, the app will direct you to an online retailer, and in select cases, a store within 50 miles (typing in a Manhattan Zip Code netted results within the five boroughs, as well as White Plains, New Jersey, and Long Island) that stocks it. If you're game for an in-person pickup, tell the app your desired size and color, and the Lucky "concierge team" will call the store to see if it's available (regular business hours apply). If it is, they'll even ask the store to set it aside for same-day pickup. The app was super-buggy when it first debuted and is still slow, but it's the closest us proletarians may ever get to having a personal assistant. Download it here!
Lustr Fashion Finder
Get off the G train in a new 'hood and want to kill time at a men’s business accessories trunk show within walking distance of where you are? This impressive sales and promo finder shows you exactly what's happening in real time near you, and draws up a list of upcoming events and promotions searchable by distance, neighborhood, and time remaining before sale end. Navigate sales based on your location and specify down to the type of product you’re looking for (accessories, beauty products, shoes, etc.), the occasion for which you’re shopping (working out, getting married, etc.), or the style you’re going for (edgy, preppy, etc.). You can even create an itinerary and score exclusive-to-Lustr deals. Download it here!
This site's stylish and intuitive spinoff app aggregates clothing and accessories from more than 100 e-commerce sites (Asos, Bluefly, and Neiman Marcus among them). Poke around indiscriminately or filter by category, keyword, brand, store, price, color, size, and sale. If you fall in love, the site forwards you to an online retailer. The free app is best for those who don't really know what they want ("a white dress ... maybe sleeveless ... ideally under $200") and would like to cast a wide net to see what's out there. Download it here!
Instead of downloading a bunch of individual designer apps, peruse this hub of major ready-to-wear and couture collections (including menswear), dating back several years. The free app features runway videos beamed to your iPhone hours after the collections debut, as well as show reviews and photos of every look. Supplemental features include international party-scene coverage and access to the site's Style File blog. The app occasionally stalls and crashes, but it's thoroughly comprehensive and easy to use. Download it here!
Like most wardrobe-organizing apps, Stylebook ($3.99) lets you upload photos from your closet, tag and categorize everything you own, plan out what you'll wear in the coming month, and track how many times you've worn each piece. But unlike the others, it allows you to move, assemble, and resize pieces from your wardrobe right on the screen, layering outfits to see exactly how they might look. The biggest drawback was the app's inability to edit out the background from uploaded photos — your best bet is to use the "manual erase" function, or just Photoshop it out yourself before uploading. All in all, Cher Horowitz would be pleased. Download it here!