Monday, November 05, 2007

Online Fashion Boutiques, Take Note!

Halterneck Top | Bilingual | Fashion | Designer

If you're a frequent reader then you will know that I love to shop - designer clothes, designer shoes and designer handbags. However, there's something about fashion retailing, especially online fashion boutiques, that really sucks and often turns me off my passion. Simply stated, this relates to the way that many online fashion boutiques display their merchandise.

I don't know if you're like me but often I find designer clothes that are simply displayed and photographed against some backdrop or being modelled by Casper, just suspended in mid air. The halter top shown above is an example. I'm sure you've see lots of this yourself but if not then take a quick look at the teen clothing shown on online fashion boutiques like Aeropostale and Delia's, and the sassy and chic clothing shown at The Warehouse and Miss Selfridge. Now don't get me wrong as I happen to love all of these online boutiques. They are merely examples of the point that I'm trying to make here. I just find that displaying fashion like this does not do justice to the items and often I will simply move on.

Take for example the halterneck top by Bilingual shown above. I wrote about this piece in my post Up To 50% Off La Star Style Celebrity Fashion back on August 18, 2007. As I wrote then, when I first saw this halterneck even at the 50% discounted sale price of £39.99 I asked myself "yeah sure, who'd pay that much for this?" Intrigued, I had a closer look and if you click on the image you'll see how this halterneck top looks being worn by Hollywood A-lister, Halle Berry. How quickly I changed my mind when I saw it modelled in this way. It's nothing short of super sexy and I too wanted one of these exclusive and very limited tops.

ADASA | Mason by Michelle Mason | Designer | Dress with Waist Ties in GreyNow what I've labelled as 'Casper displays' is not the only thing that sucks as I also often come across pictures of designer clothes on mannequins, life-size dummies sometimes with an egg head with no defined features or anatomical details but also often headless, or armless, or just a torso, and I say, "Yuck. No Thanks". Yet I can see the exact same designer clothes pictured being worn by live models and say "Wow. Yes Thanks" and either go ahead and purchase or at the very least dream about owning them!

Now this isn't always the case as there are some exceptions, however I have to say that this is mostly true for me. Here is a couple of current examples of this taken from another one of my favorite online boutiques, ADASA. The first, the designer dress shown in the picture on the above left, is the Mason by Michelle Mason Dress with Waist Ties in Grey currently priced at $297 at ADASA and the second, shown in the picture on the right below is the Mason by Michelle Mason 3/4 Sleeve Boatneck Dress in Purple, available at ADASA for $407.

ADASA | Mason by Michelle Mason | Designer | 3/4 Sleeve Boatneck Dress in PurpleEach of these two modelled designer dresses by Los Angeles fashion designer Michelle Mason I could easily order online. I think they're gorgeous, sophisticated and sexy, and look absolutely stunning, just too cute to mouse click past. So here's a simple experiment. As you look at each outfit click on the picture and see how these gorgeous designer clothes look in the alternative displayed on a mannequin. Much like the Bilingual halterneck top shown above, these two Mason by Michelle Mason designer dresses displayed in confident stylish poses on headless mannequins, I can assure I would not look twice at.

Even though mannequins can be very realistic, capable of a myriad of natural human poses and based on human measurements and proportions to die for, as well as being flesh-colored and with that perfect smile, looking so very youthful, I can't explain how as a frequent fashion shopper why I feel this way. I'm not at all sure if my reaction is because of the wooden or plastic doll look or if somehow my brain recognizes that these dummies are not the real thing, that they're just a non-personalized representation of the human form, youthful and with that perfect body but somewhat idealized and stylized, to model the designer clothes. Perhaps it's in the mannequins' body language or that I simply see that they are Barbie dolls, too perfect and not having the body shape of today's average woman makes me feel bad about myself! It might even be that I just get a different perception of beauty and the human body when designer clothes are displayed on mannequins. I really don't know but the result is that I don't buy!

And I have to say that the same applies to mannequins modelling designer jeans and to a lessor extent designer shoes and accessories like designer jewelry and designer sunglasses! And this isn't restricted to online merchandising either as I often have the very same reaction when it comes to mannequins in storefronts or magazine advertisements. Somehow they are a turn-off! Crazy I know but if there are many like me then I think that the display of designer clothes in this way is far less effective than retailers may realize!


  1. Anonymous9:49 PM

    I could not agree with you more. Live models and a little bit of attitude go a long way in bringing clothes to, well, life.

    I've noticed the difference in my own boutique's sales and feel that I should have realized this from the very start. Why do on-line boutique owners fail to "get" the necessity of well lit, flattering model photos for their merchandise?
    Probably for various reasons, funding being one of them...but I'd also like to think that the on-line clothing boutique, like many other on-line industries, is just coming out of it's pioneer phase. The differences between a store front boutique and an on-line boutique may seem apparent, but some of them can be subtle. It's a rare thing to find a live model in a physical might reason that cute clothes, clear pictures and reasonable prices are all the ingredients required for success.

    The fine tuning, including model photos, search engine optimization, website maintenance and beautification, along with countless other equally valuable elements that have nothing to do with the clothes, themselves, comes with either paid for advice, or hard learned experience.

    Someone should write a book!


  2. I completely agree with you. Clothing should be displayed on a live model. I can't stand when shops do that floating thing. PLease check out my store. We are on Myspace right now, because our website is under construction. Thank you so much!


    please email me with any comments or suggestions.

  3. There is no way to tell what something's going to look like unless it's photographed on a human body.

  4. Anonymous6:36 PM

    of course the clothing looks better on the live models, but have you considered that these cute boutiques are trying to keep their cost down to pass on the saveings to thier customers? maybe you could look beyond the life size doll, use some imagination and cut them some slack.