Fashion’s digital landscape is changing at an extreme pace, but one of the sites with which designers seem to be having an enduring, collective love affair is Polyvore. Like Gilt Groupe, the relatively new porthole is drawing unprecedented traffic and granting spotlighted brands huge exposure. Founded in 2007, the company has raised funds in the ballpark of $8 million and only appears to be growing. (Not to mention it already garnered a lengthy profile from the New Yorker.) “Fashion brands first heard of Polyvore when they noticed an unusual amount of traffic coming from the site,” says Women’s Wear Daily. But, now that the likes of Coach and Diane Von Furstenberg have caught on to the potential gold mine that is the ‘be your own stylist’ collage-making site, they’re hosting contests on it aplenty. And, it’s paying off.
Take, for instance, Coach’s recent holiday contest, which centered around the cheesy theme: “How do you sparkle?” According to WWD, “the brand received 3,692 entries in seven days. The entries received 103,379 “likes,” 13,006 comments, [and] 204,656 page views.” And Polyvore isn’t just giving fashion brands an exponential boost in traffic. It’s serving as a trend-forecasting tool as well. “A month later, Diane von Furstenberg used a contest on Polyvore to identify the most popular items in its fall lineup,” adds WWD.
Even the UK’s Independent is citing user activity on Polyvore (most recently, women selecting maxi dresses in countless sets) as prime evidence of the latest trends. And, with roughly 1.5 million unique members a month and counting, there’s no shortage of new opportunities for fashion brands. The success of such a site signifies a distinct transfer of power from magazine editor to consumer; after all, and if fashion brands are looking directly at consumers’ tastes to determine what they should be designing or highlighting, it drastically challenges the magazine-driven hierarchy that’s been in place for decades.