The Twitter-verse has been buzzing about Google’s just-launched Boutiques.com for days, mostly because Google and fashion seem to fit together like oil and water. New York Times’ fashion critic Cathy Horyn said it best when she wrote, "You know how remote and strange the fashion world is when you come to Google’s headquarters […], employees are zipping around the sprawling campus on scooters and bicycles, so that pretty much eliminates platform shoes and minis. And for another, there are way too many snack stations at Google. Fashionistas are funny about food.” Then again, this is Google we’re talking about, the company whose employees are so famously creative and intelligent that they’re working on everything from online messaging to self-driving cars. So does Boutiques.com deliver? Early accounts point to yes.
A mash up of popular aggregation shopping sites like shopstyle.com, styling sites like polyvore.com, and online retailers that tie their merchandise to celebrities like Singer22.com, Google picked notable celebrities, designers, and bloggers to curate their own online boutiques, which don’t sell clothes, but direct users to sites that do sell them. So, if you want to dress like celebrity trendsetters the Olsen twins or Olivia Palermo, you can find out how, directly from the source. If you'd rather see picks from your favorite designers, including Oscar de la Renta and Catherine Malandrino, you can do that too, or you can get inspired by street-style bloggers like Jane Alridge of Sea of Shoes or Bryanboy. Users can stay alerted to their favorite boutiques by “following” those that they like and items are marked as unavailable when they sell out.
As with Polyvore, Boutiques.com users can create their own collages ("boutiques") and users are invited to follow those as well. Unlike Polyvore, however, the site lets you look for items not only among online retailers like Net-a-Porter, but in other communities (including Polyvore). Further, Boutiques.com also includes “inspired by” sections so bold faced names can offer luxury items alongside more affordable favorites.
Boutiques.com is already proving to be addicting; not only can you browse by color, silhouette, and pattern, but if you hover your mouse over an item, a similar item you might also like pops up. The one downside? As of now, Boutiques.com is women-focused, but if the site gains steam, that should change very soon.