The mission of the collage-building site Polyvore (clip any images you want from the Internet and use them to create outfits and themed "sets"), which is "democratize fashion" (in the words of Polyvore director Katherine McClymonds), seems to be working. The site has more than six million users who create, share, and vote on virtual fashion collages. At Polyvore, everyone's a stylist, editors need not apply.
Polyvore's influence first registered with execs at retail companies when they noticed an unusual amount of traffic coming from the site, WWD reports. Not an industry to miss a trend, a number of labels have held contests on Polyvore to increase awareness of their brand and styles. Some are even using it to inform business decisions. Diane von Furstenberg decided to base its order quantities on how often DVF items were included in Polyvore fashion "sets."
Coach has held a number of themed contests with Polyvore, including a holiday "How do you Sparkle" tableu-creating task that received nearly 4,000 entries. The handbag company has also relied heavily on in-store incentives for customers who join their online community pages. When the younger-skewed Poppy line launched last year, those who "liked" the collection on Facebook received free gifts in the store, and the company's fan base went from 150,000 to 300,000 in two weeks.
Foursquare users accounted for 10 percent of the foot traffic during the Coach men's store's opening weekend, and online participants received free gifts as well. Coach has also learned to coddle bloggers, tapping them to collaborate on special-edition by blogger bags, to which members of the online communities on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare were granted early access to buy.
Juicy Couture has also embraced the wonders of social media, inviting their consumers to upload self-styled photographs to Facebook and in the process, building a network of 500,000 "likes" and counting, opening a Twitter account and having cute employees blog their love for all things Juicy on The Daily Couturist.
While the trail is still being blazed in a trial-and-error fashion, strategies and benefits to social media are beginning to take shape and we like where it's going. Keep up the good work on all ends, and pretty soon we'll perfect a seamless tell-them-what-you-want-and-they'll-make-it system.