Today, Google's fabled Boutiques.com launched, and it is everything those tales of its existence promised it would be. Google invited celebrities, personal-style bloggers, retailers, and designers to make online boutiques, essentially their own little Net-a-porters, which don't sell items but act as portals that direct users to other online shops — quite often, Net-a-porter. Part of the appeal will not only be the fun of creating one's own "store" but also the ego boost derived from accruing followers. As we type this, Carey Mulligan and Mary-Kate Olsen have the most followers, at seventeen and sixteen respectively. Other luminaries in the entertainment business to create boutiques for the launch include Eve, Olivia Palermo, Elisabeth Moss, and Ashlee Simpson-Wentz.
Designers were also recruited to create boutiques for the site, so if you want to buy their stuff from them, you can. Alternatively, their pages also include a section of items "inspired by [insert designer's name]'s style." So on Christian Siriano's page, for example, you can buy this $1,900 dress from his favorite items or this $1,409 Alexander McQueen dress from his "inspired by" section.
Boutiques.com is not without its quirks. In creating your own boutique, Google attempts to analyze your style with its "Stylizer" that forces you to choose between two images, usually of models or celebrities wearing outfits, but landmarks or alcoholic beverages randomly pop up if you skip through all the selections, like so:
Browsing the boutiques is fun, and Google has a nice feature of similar (and usually cheaper) items that pop up when you hover over each item. But the site has a couple of glaring omissions in its beta phase. One, there is no "editors" category of boutiques just yet. You can browse through picks by personal-style bloggers like Sea of Shoes and Bryanboy, but there is no "fashion editors" section to see what style icons like Kate Lanphear would put in her store. Second, Boutiques.com has a serious dearth of manly male influence. In a clear blow to Kanye West's ego, no male celebrities curated boutiques for the launch. Also, Google informs merchants applying to have items listed on the site: "We currently only list women’s products in the shoe, clothing, handbag, and accessory categories. Please do not apply to be a Boutiques.com merchant if you do not carry products in these women’s categories." Men's ought to come down the line, in the typical online retail fashion of adding men's after women's proves successful. Though it wouldn't seem like a bad thing to launch menswear with womenswear since many men prefer online shopping, which saves them the embarrassment of physical shopping. Then again, maybe it's more embarrassing for them to shop from Ryan Reynolds's e-boutique.
Anyway, what do you think of Boutiques.com? Would you go to the trouble of setting up a boutique, and would you actually use the others to shop?
Boutiques.com [Official Site]