A Dressing Room on Your Laptop

My daughters were shopping this weekend. This involved hours in the dressing room, conferences with friends, and swapping jeans for a skirt while agonizing over accessories.

This is different, though. The girls have a new tool in their shopping repertoire: laptops. They are cruising from virtual online store to store, shopping while they chat on Yahoo or on Facebook. They are totally engrossed, pulling together looks for their personalized virtual models. They save their can’t-live-without outfits to their very own virtual wish list, ready for a credit-card enabled grownup to manage the shopping cart.

Wary of the mall scene for unsupervised teens, I am embracing these brave new shoppers wholeheartedly. They are safe at the family computer, having fun, and learning to manage their clothes budget. They are absorbed with planning. They are learning the value of patience. I see impulse buys replaced with carefully considered purchases and a closet full of smart choices.


My girls haven’t moved into the world of gaming and online-role playing Web sites yet, but gaming industry studies show thousands of young professional women playing “retail,” with designers like Norma Kamali eager to oblige. Kamali is engaging over 3 million users of Designer Closet, a game at Roiworld.com, a virtual makeover web site. Trend-conscious, computer-savvy women are dressing their avatars to test run fashions and then spending real money online.

Fashion Times' online edition ran a fascinating piece about fashion’s expansion into the virtual market. In the coming decade, I am certain this is where many online fashion catalogs are going. Catalogs and online shopping will be targeted at a world populated by consumers who demand an ever higher level of interaction and entertainment. I am intrigued.

Welcome to the brave new world of dressing rooms, where the lighting is controlled by your monitor settings and switching the color of a blouse is as easy as clicking the mouse. I see it as a kinder, gentler dressing room.

I imagine myself joining the new guard, clicking my way around Zac Posen, Giorgio Armani, Alberta Ferretti before heading to the virtual dressing room to select something perfect for my formal dinner event.

First, though, I will watch over the shoulders of my teens, absorbing their nimble virtual shopping maneuvers, readying myself for a whole new shopping adventure.

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It's fascinating how the world changes right now. While clothes are still being regarded as one of the most difficult items to be sold online - customers can neither try or feel the garments, it's changing fast.
One interesting bit is that while only 7% of clothes are being sold thru internet, 50% of computers and 40% of books are sold via internet. Yet, computers is a $20bn business on the net, while this 7% of apparel fetches $26bn. Clothing is already the biggest eCommerce category today.
As we are seeing more technologies - like virtual fitting, and haptics (virtual feel of the fabric) take off, the apparel eCommerce will not just be the biggest but also the highest growth eCommerce sector.
I enjoyed your point of thought and style of writing a lot. Thank You!

Heikki, thank you for your comment. We will be watching fashion's virtual connection with their consumers with interest. There is so much growth and innovation coming from this sector. Leslie

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