Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Want to shop online? Password please.

Nowadays practically every clothing company has a web presence. While many offer online exclusives to entice impulse sales, their inventory is more often the same as their brick and mortar stores. Sure, many companies do a good job of duplicating their in-store experience on the web by using their logos and creative as well as other added-value features like blogs, music and social networking. However, some newer companies have popped up to capitalize on the more experiential aspects of online shopping, bringing the "joy of the hunt" that many of us experience in stores to the web.

Invitation-only sites like Gilt Groupe and RueLaLa make shoppers feel like the ultimate insider - you have to be invited by a member to get in. Once inside, the sites offer sales on luxury brands like Badgley Mischka, Tory Burch and Valentino. While these items are on sale, their sticker prices can still be pretty high. Plus, much like two women pulling on each sleeve of a sweater at a sample sale, you still have to get items into your cart before they are snapped up. Women often go to a sale and add as much as they can to their cart and then make their decisions about whether or not to purchase. Often an item will seem sold-out, but you can stalk it until it briefly appears or get notified if someone decides not to purchase. Vicious, but thrilling!

Then there is ideeli, another invitation-only site that allows basic 2nd row membership or a more exclusive 1st row offering that you have to pay to join. For $6.99 a month you get to shop sales an hour early as well as access even more exclusive events. Who knows if there are more options for the 1st rowers, but I haven't seen anything worth pulling the trigger on here.

For those seriously into fashion, who want to pull out new designer labels without piling on the credit card debt, there are sites like Bag Borrow or Steal that allow you to rent couture bags for a monthly fee...again there are tiers of membership that allow access to different levels of bags. One of the memberships is $400+ per month! It amazes me that someone would pay this, but clearly my hardly-ever-change-my-purse mentality takes me out of the target audience.

The list goes on when it comes to private shopping sites:
I've barely scratched the surface on this list, but still it is hard to resist the allure of a sale, even when the sale price is still way out of my range. It is human nature to look for a deal, and these fashion sites feed into our need to outwit "the man." What's more, we also get to give in to our most primal urges where we feel validated when we can proudly say, "I got that hammered silk wrap front gown! I rule!"