Wired up: High-street fashion

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OK, so at first glance shopping for clothes on-line sounds a bit crazy. Surely you can't really buy something without trying it on? But you've reckoned without the ingenuity of the fashion world's website gurus. And who's going to complain about being able to shop for clothes anywhere from New York to Milan?



If you've ever despaired at how models in magazines bear no relation to real people, there may finally be an answer. The designers at the Land's End website, home of one of America's big names in on-line fashion, think they have the answer. Its website has a model, whose vital statistics you can personalise before trying on clothes from the virtual wardrobe. The concept, it has to be said, is a little crude at the moment but it shows what on-line shopping will eventually become. The clothes on offer range from formal office attire to outdoor wear. At the moment, the site only offers a female model but the company promises that similar systems for both men and children are in the pipeline. The company also has an American website.




The Principles website takes a more conventional approach to on-line selling. More of a website catalogue, it accepts that on-line clothes shopping will never completely replace actually going into a shop. However, one of the site's more intriguing innovations is to have an on-line colour chart for different materials. And the site of course allows people to purchase items on-line. The chain is part of a larger group, and there are links to other shops in the same chain. One of the most interesting things about this is that it is possible to see how the different stores have embraced the versatility of the Internet to market themselves differently. Compare, for example, the Principles website with the Top Man site, which is far more jazzy and youth-oriented.


THE BEST OF THE REST www.speedo.com HHH

This very new website (it only opened for business a few weeks ago) sells more than 50 styles of clothes for men and women

www.psyche.co.uk HH A very strikingly designed website from an up-and-coming designer in the north of England. Still in the early stages of development.

www.gap.com HHH

A well-put-together and attractive site from the fashionable high-street supplier.

www.galeriegaultier.com HH

The official website for the innovative French designer. Not the most user-friendly of sites (some browsers seem to have trouble with it), but there's an impressive range on offer.

www.levi.com HHH

One of the real stalwarts of the Internet fashion world, they have had a website for years which is always innovative and entertaining.