Virtural-closet websites revise online fashion shopping ideas

March 4, 2012 12:00 am

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NEW YORK -- Years before Facebook and YouTube, Joseph Einhorn would spend hours on eBay -- not bidding (he was only a teenager) but searching for people who shared his passion for vintage comic books.

"That was the original social network around commerce," said Mr. Einhorn, now 30.

Today he is the founder of, a new scrapbooking and shopping site, where users can share photographs of covetable objects and experiences -- a velvet Burberry trench coat, sparkly gold nail polish, a room at the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong -- and, it is hoped, buy them.

The Essential Sites

All of these websites and apps facilitate shopping. How to tell them apart?

THE VIRTUAL CLOSETS: Track how often you wear what's in your closet, the cost-per-wear of items, and the weather the day you wore them. Upload and share outfits; virtually try on potential purchases with a Webcam. Catalog your closet, layer outfits, and post images to Facebook. Organize and share -- what else? -- your wardrobe.

TouchCloset: Lets you flip through your clothes like album covers on an iPod.

THE SCRAPBOOKERS: Surf, catalog and buy from glossy images of fashions, gadgets, trips. Design collages of clothes and accessories. "Pin" images from the Web on digital bulletin boards.

The Internet today is littered with would-be Rachel Zoes posting the contents of their closets and swapping styling tips on sites like Pinterest, Clothia, Stylitics and Polyvore. Advice sites like Go Try It On and Fashism deliver instant feedback on whether one ought to walk out the door wearing Uggs with a miniskirt. Wanelo, Lyst, Fab and Svpply are trying to make buying as brisk as E-ZPass. And each week seems to deliver a new fashion app, be it for street-style inspiration (Pose and Snapette) or virtual wardrobe organization (Cloth, Stylebook, Touch Closet).

In January, visits from the United States to some of these fashion-conscious sites increased exponentially compared with the previous year, according to Experian Hitwise, the Internet tracking firm. About 60 percent of the visits were from women. Pinterest, the scrapbooking site where members post to virtual boards their favorite images from around the Web, has much of this traffic. It is now among the 10 most-visited social networks, along with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

First Published 2012-03-03 23:03:07

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