And as former fashion editors—one or both have worked at Mademoiselle, Self, Cosmopolitan and Vitals, among other titles—Klein and Schaeffer are well aware of how editorial vision can translate to sales. They also know that the format typical of fashion e-commerce sites (the duo declined to give examples)—a photo of a skirt or dress linked to a credit card checkout—is devoid not only of imagination but also any point of view. “Currently we think a lot of these sites are megastores,” says Schaeffer. “A lot of them can feel overwhelming and really cold, almost off-putting, because they just have a laundry list of merchandise and every single designer under the sun.” And while magazine Web sites are great at conveying image and covering what’s new, they leave the customer to seek out her own point of sale. Klein and Schaeffer want their site to eliminate that disconnect.
They started by enlisting L.A. fashion and Web designer Juan Carlos Obando, a portion of whose collection they carry in the boutique, to create the insider-y look and feel of the site, which includes runway images and collages drawn from a designer’s inspiration to flesh out the product shots.
In addition, Klein and Schaeffer have developed a series of interactive features, all of which are grouped under the techy term “Web 2.0,” or in other words, information sharing, which they believe takes the site to the cutting edge of fashion e-commerce. The first to debut: the designer studio, a behind-the-scenes video shot exclusively for Presse on location in various designers’ workspaces. That will be followed by the release of a blog; virtual trunk shows, during which designers host a one-hour online chat and customers have access to the following season’s collection; a downloadable “virtual closet” of the customer’s buying history where Klein and Schaeffer can suggest new purchases; and, finally, a biannual archive sale wherein a select designer will reissue a sold-out or iconic piece from a past season or a runway item never put into production. New York design duo Nicole Noselli and Daphne Gutierrez of Bruce agreed to kick off the designer studio in April, and Sari Gueron, Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, Victoria Bartlett of VPL, and Obando are among the other designers who plan to participate in select features.
That’s a pretty impressive list, especially considering it will undoubtedly take time for the site to build traffic. Of course, a Web site and its linkability make for endless viral growth potential. And as Noselli, who participated in a style.com video interview that didn’t link to a commerce site, points out, “No one knows where to get the clothes based on that interview.” Not only that, but Noselli knows that since Bruce isn’t yet a household name, the presseboutique.com video may help circumvent sticker shock. “People in the fashion community know who we are,” she says. “But not every customer who goes into these stores does. We’re not a huge name, and from what I understand from buyers and customers, our clothes are pretty expensive. [The video] is a good way to explain what we’re doing.”