Google venturing into fashion

Google is making its first foray into the world of fashion this Wednesday (November 17).

The behemoth online search engine is unveiling Boutiques.com, a site that will enable Web users to compile fashion merchandise they like into personalized virtual boutiques, which other people can then click through to purchase directly from an online retailer.

Google has purportedly hired Sarah Jessica Parker to launch a virtual boutique, and is now courting Tom Cruise's fashionable wife Katie Holmes to do the same.  It has also reached out to high-end labels like Oscar de la Renta, Tory Burch, Cynthia Rowley, Marchesa, Isaac Mizrahi, Tracy Reese, and Erin Fetherston to partake in its new e-commerce scheme.

The fashion and beauty trade publication Women's Wear Daily reports Google is not planning to become a vendor itself. Instead, Boutiques.com will direct customers towards a brand's existing online store or a retailer who carries the item like Net-a-Porter, Yoox, Saks Fifth Avenue, or Barneys New York.

Though Google Shopping already exists as a separate platform from Google Search, Boutiques.com will usher in a more visually-appealing platform for online shoppers. Currently, Web users can filter their searches on Google Shopping by category, brand and price, but not by age, gender, style, or fabric  requirements that are crucial when it comes to buying clothes.

The e-commerce industry is now booming and Google, compared to other online sites, has entered the market rather late in the game. Virtual fashion community Polyvore and search engine ShopStyle, which allow Web users to style outfits and then click through to online retailers to buy them, are now two of the biggest non-retail fashion websites. Each boasts about 1.6 million unique visitors per month, according to Google Analytics.

And earlier this month, e-tailer Revolve unveiled an application that allows Web users to build their own online clothing boutiques stocked with items from the site. Nicole Richie, the celebrity designer behind House of Harlow and Winter Kate, was among the first to set up her own virtual shop.

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