Pick Your Price: 8 Super Cute Pieces to Shop from Garmentory

For our generation, e-commerce is an addiction. But oftentimes due to unattainable price points, it feels more like the window-shopping of years past than a viable way to get clothes from store x to my door. Enter, Garmentory. Although there’s been an influx of sites focused on lower prices–from the sample-sale boom of a few years ago to more recent “re-comm” sites for selling one’s old wares in hopes that they become someone else’s treasures, these sites do not disrupt the usual shopping experience quite like Garmentory does.

Garmentory pairs you, the consumer, with small, über-chic boutiques and allows you to “make an offer” i.e. name your price. The boutique has the right to reject that offer, but in a sense that’s part of the fun. You can up your offer, but even if you don’t, you’ll surely find something else closer to your price range.

I spoke with co-founder Adele Tetangco about how this unique business model came to be.

ADELE garmentory

“I’ve been working with small fashion businesses for over 10 years,” she said, noting how much online shopping has changed the landscape. “Today, technology is providing an opportunity for a ton of cool tools for designers and boutiques to use,” she says. “I was working with a fashion label when I met Sunil Gowda (co-founder of Garmentory). We’d worked together a while ago. When we reconnected we worked through some ideas for a fashion site,” she explains. “At that time I was consulting with a group of eight boutiques so I knew their challenges first hand,”  Amongst those challenges is the problem of how small boutiques deal with extra merchandise. “It’s such a waste for stores to be putting great items away at the end of a season without having the chance to really sell through everything. Their only options were warehouse sales or hanging on to things until the next season,” Tetangco noted.

“No one was offering a service that could help. There were a lot of sale sites, but nothing that promoted the boutiques and designers directly. There were a lot that sold sale items, but they all looked like a clearance rack,” she lamented. But that problem lead to the spark that created Garmentory: “We wanted to create something that was sleek and stylish, promoted boutique fashion business and gave them a great way to sell sale items to new customers. Then Sunil had the idea for a make-an-offer purchase model — how fun is that?”

Next up?

We’re working on launching a new counter offer feature! This will make the shopping experience even more personal as customers negotiate a price with the boutique and designers directly.”

And since the selection consists of a vast array of very different pieces, I asked co-founder Adele Tetangco to select some picks for us to get started with.

“I am really into hats at the moment and am coveting this navy blue one.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 12.46.50 PM

“This Rag & Bone sweater is just so easy.”

rag and bone garmentory

“I love anything from Collina Strada and am just so stoked to have her on Garmentory. This jumper is on the top of my list. I love the print.”

collina strada garmentory

“To Be Announced makes the most amazing shoes. I’ve been eyeing these ones for a while.”

TBA shoes garmentory

“Apiece Apart is one of my favourite brands. These pants say it all.”

apiece apart pants garmentory

This piece is just so easy, I’d wear it with jeans.”

dace dress garmentory

“Lizzie Fortunato knows the way to my heart. Currently, it’s through this iPad cover.”

lizzie fortunato ipad case garmentory

I love this ring. It’s small, yet bold.”

ring garmentory

You can join Garmentory here. 

Zara’s E-Commerce Site Launches Tomorrow

H&M isn’t the only retailer going high-fashion for fast-fashion. While both H&M and Zara are neck and neck when it comes to campaign stars (Zara’s go-to campaign model is fashion veteran Stella Tennant, who starred in both their spring and fall lookbooks), e-commerce is about to give the Spanish clothing and accessories chain a leg up on the competition, as their US online shop officially opens for business tomorrow.

To gear up for the stateside launch, the brand has created a photography campaign that aims to creatively capture the essence of the United States. Lensed by 24 different photographers, “Dear America” features unique images of the landscapes and signature scenes of all 50 states. See a few sample shots below and view Racked’s full roundup here.

image California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware

image New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York

Fashion Looks Forward to Gaining More Digital Presence in 2011

Given the amount of stories we’ve covered on the subject, 2010 was definitely the year of e-commerce. And while some designers have yet to embark on the prime real estate that is the internet (John Galliano recently stated he’s not a fan), companies like Burberry and Chanel have embraced the concept whole-heartedly, launching their own respective mobile applications. In fact, Burberry took it to the next level during their spring/summer 2011 show at London Fashion Week: On September 21, select visitors in their 25 worldwide flagship stores experienced “Burberry Retail Theatre“—a live stream of the fashion show followed by the ability to purchase the collection directly from the Burberry iPad app (pictured).

Burberry’s goal to provide consumers with as much access to their products as possible is exactly where the rest of the fashion world should be placing all their chips. Today, it’s all about instant gratification—if consumers want it, they want it now. This flows into media as well; standard television isn’t even fast enough for us anymore, especially now that there’s a host of digital entertainment devices like Apple TV and Boxee that provide the ability to watch TV shows on-demand, YouTube videos, and browse social networking sites. The introduction of the iPad has been a game-changer too—especially for those of us constantly on the go. Just like the old cable box has been abandoned by the savvy tech-inclined, designers who neglect to deliver information to their consumers fast enough are taking a gamble on both the final sale and their consumer’s loyalty as a whole (except for old-school devotees of brands like Hermès, but hey, even they have an iPhone app).

A recent article in The New York Times discusses the ever-growing trend of e-commerce and how designers are now tapping into social networking to connect with their fans even further. Cathy Horyn writes: “Probably the most important accomplishment for Web-resistant designers was to recognize that their customers talk to one another online; they want girlfriend advice and they want designers to listen. As a result, many more designers this year began using Facebook and Twitter.” A quick Google search can tell you that almost every designer you look up has a Twitter account, with corresponding Facebook accounts slowly beginning to build. As you can see on Alexander Wang’s Facebook page, designers utilize the Facebook page to communicate company highlights, latest collections, sales, and overall progress. Essentially, the platform allows the designer to become their own publicists, communicating what they want, when they want, 24/7. And the fans are listening. There’s a reason why Facebook has generated over 500 million fans; we’ve become total information junkies, but given the capabilities of today’s internet, who wouldn’t be?

The NYT article also introduces next February’s launch of Moda Operandi—a new e-commerce site by Aslaug Magnusdottir and Lauren Santo Domingo that will sell various runway looks from 40 to 50 high-fashion designers by way of flash sales. While there is no discount and items will be sold at full retail price, the goal is to provide access to designs to high-fashion consumers who are otherwise out of luck when a designer decides not to place their favorite runway look on the market. The first batch of designers said to participate include Calvin Klein and Thakoon. Moda Operandi is the first of many web-based initiatives we’ll be seeing in 2011—especially now that the fashion world is beginning to realize that all we want is more.

‘InStyle’ Launches First Solo Shopping Site From a Magazine

2010 has definitely become the year of e-commerce. Just weeks after Google’s Boutiques.com release, InStyle has now launched StyleFind.com—a stand-alone shopping platform that features “150 retailers—including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Net-a-Porter, Gap, J.Crew, Mulberry, Topshop, and Mango—and more than 2,000 brands,” reveals managing editor Ariel Foxman. Apart from Boutiques.com, the site will be competing with other well-established shopping search engines like Polyvore and ShopStyle.

But StyleFind has a few bells and whistles that just might set them apart. For one, they have a members-only deals section that “highlights red hot sales across the web, including a weekly StyleFind exclusive,” according to the magazine’s website. This feature also places them in the flash-sale category, a concept HauteLook and Gilt have already mastered. The main difference between these competing sites is that they offer search functionality or exclusive deals—not both. I’m curious to see if InStyle’s attempt to consolidate the online shopping experience really catches on.

The Man Repeller’s Top 5 Boutiques: Apologies in Advance to Our Boyfriends

Last month Alisa Gould-Simon introduced you to our latest blog obsession, The Man Repeller, an oft-updated site of creator Leandra Medine’s daily outfits and fashion musings, all based around the styles and looks that women love but inevitably deter men. Today she’s posted a guide to her top five online boutiques that epitomize the concept of man-repelling. From harem pants to turbans to tailcoats, it’s every girl’s dream, and every guy’s worst nightmare.

In no particular order, Medine lists the following favorites: Forward by Revolve, Shopbop, Pixie Market, Nasty Gal, and Cuffs. From the casual to the most serious of man repellers, Medine has you covered—she’s been in the man-repelling business for years and her game is sharp.

Two New E-Commerce Shops Launch With Exclusive Stock

Following in the footsteps of Google’s revelatory e-shop announcement earlier this week are two new e-commerce sites stocking exclusive fashions. Both are based out of NYC but follow unique virtual retail paths. Fabricly is working with burgeoning designers, which means consumers can both offer feedback on designs and “vote” for their favorites, as well as score stock at reasonable prices. The model is relatively simple. As Fabricly puts it, “Fabricly is here to help you get the clothes you want. Designers submit designs, you vote, and Fabricly produces.” The first sale up is Oh! x Fabricly (a capsule collection from designer Ostwald Helgason—brother of Fabricly’s founder Ari Helgason—who sells his UK-produced garments at the likes of Opening Ceremony) and features a decidedly Jean Seberg-circa-Breathless theme. Read: it’s chock-full of ’60s silhouettes and sailor stripes and is best paired with a pixie cut. But the real selling point here is broader than the collections themselves. Fabricly is allowing young designers exceptional exposure and simultaneously granting shoppers an unprecedented amount of influence over the fashion they choose to purchase.

Meanwhile Of a Kind is a new retail destination following a slightly different model. All stock sold is likewise created exclusively for the site, the first installation of which is courtesy of Mandy Coon (to be followed by Lizzie Fortunato). Of a Kind, however, is putting its energy into creating according editorial for the designers it carries. Take for instance three separate features on Mandy Coon that would easily feel at home in the pages of Lucky or Elle. As for the designs themselves? “Every item sold on the site is limited-edition—and was designed exclusively for Of a Kind. With editions ranging in size from five to 50 pieces, you have the opportunity to own something truly special and collectible.” While the similarities between the two fresh e-shops are uncanny, both are forging new territory in a relatively uncharted market (limited-edition fashion sold exclusively online). In the world of innovative virtual retail, there’s definitely room for both.

E-Commerce Expansions: Gap, ASOS & More

Quite a few major retailers are beefing up their e-commerce operations this fall and expanding internationally. British mega brand ASOS just launched in the states, with free shipping to boot. But news has it the inexpensive clothier (whose price points are on par with the likes of H&M and Zara) is branching out with a Craigslist-like seller option soon. “Retail industry watchers report that the company has recently hired Leighanne Miles, the ex-head of UK mom-and-baby brand Mothercare’s ecommerce, to launch the ASOS Marketplace later this year,” says Racked. While there will be no bidding and only clothing, accessories and shoes will be available for immediate purchase, expect to see garments ranging from slightly used to vintage. GAP Inc. is building its e-commerce presence too, specifically with regard to markets abroad.

“The San Francisco-based company said its e-commerce capabilities will extend to 65 countries by year-end,” says Women’s Wear Daily, noting that this means expansions internationally for GAP, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, and Athleta, which all fall under the GAP Inc. umbrella. Online shopping options will further swell thanks to Zara and H&M. Unfortunately for the US market, both fast-fashion retailers are launching e-commerce in Europe starting September 2 (for Zara) and September 3 (for H&M). But, word has it Americans can expect their own virtual outlets from both brands to become available sometime next year.

Luxury Brands Embrace E-Commerce En Masse

The e-commerce bug has been spreading from brand to brand, but until just recently, luxury houses had remained relatively immune. You can thank the recession for changing that. Not only is Marc Jacobs launching a virtual namesake shop a decade after the initial e-commerce bubble starting taking on air, “ but other luxury brands—Jimmy Choo, Hugo Boss, Vince, Lancôme, St. John, Theory, Kiehl’s, Lilly Pulitzer, Donna Karan and La Perla—have started or soon will start selling their products through their Web sites,” says the New York Times. Now everyone from the Patrik Ervell to Prada are in agreement that online shopping is the future.

“Adding to the Web’s appeal, profits are much higher on clothes sold directly to consumers, since no middleman takes a cut,” says the NYT, adding, “the brands can control pricing and styling on their sites.” While this means less emphasis might be placed on the standalone boutique experience (or freestanding stores may close altogether, as is currently happening with Chanel’s sister brand, French lingerie and swimwear line Eres), it also translates into increasingly innovative, brand-generated content online. Take St. John, for instance, which “allows customers to shop from ad-campaign photographs, and a social networking section lets shoppers send messages to designers.”

Not surprisingly, the shift in shopping is leading to competition between freestanding and online stores. While department stores are offering slews of discounts and special access for loyal customers, e-commerce “brands are biting back by, for example, selling a wider range of colors or styles than one retailer would carry, or selling special products only online.” In other words, luxury fashion is just another way in which the Internet and digital sphere are helping empower the consumer.

Gilt Groupe’s Stiff Competition

Gilt Groupe may be sweeping the members-only sale market, but the competition isn’t giving up without a fight. In fact, similarly structured flash-sale fashion sites are beefing up their infrastructure and looking to intrude on the vast and extremely lucrative territory Gilt Groupe has dominated this past year. Haute Look, for one, has just announced a 31 million-dollar expansion (courtesy of investments from Insight Venture Partners). “Gilt Groupe has been the reigning outlet of choice for the high-fashion crowd (think partnerships with Vogue), but now HauteLook (think partnerships with People’s StyleWatch) has just received the kind of funding that can make it a major player in the world of internet sale sites,” says Daily Front Row. So, what’s next? For starters, Haute Look will be offering deals on gourmet food and wine as well as “services and experiences” (read: spa trips, wine tastings, etc.). They’re also throwing a lot of energy into revamping their men’s section, which includes hiring “Tim Davis, who spent 17 years at Neiman Marcus.”

Speaking of key hires, Ideeli.com, a major Gilt Groupe competitor, has also put quite a bit of funding and focus into assembling a more impressive masthead. Ideeli.com, which just hit its 3-year-anniversary, landed several recent hires whose collective resume includes stints holding “senior-level posts at Urban Outfitters Inc., ASmallWorld.net, and Overstock.com,” says Women’s Wear Daily. Beginning Saturday, the site will implement aesthetic changes too, like incorporating Polaroids into its images alongside with more glossy, mag-appropriate shots. “Of the leading four members-only shopping sites, a group that also includes HauteLook, Rue La La and Gilt Groupe, Ideeli saw the highest rate of growth in unique visitors, according to Comscore data” for this past year, adds WWD. Meaning, the battle of the flash sale sites is far from over.