Runway News

The Olsens Launch New E-Commerce Site; Outnet’s $2 Sale

Mary Kate & Ashley OlsenMary Kate & Ashley Olsen are expanding their fashion empire into e-commerce, gearing up to launch their new digital venture, StyleMint.com, in July. The Olsens are partnering with Josh Berman, one of the Myspace founders, for the new site which promises to pair social media with online commerce for a customized shopping experience. Mary Kate and Ashley will be closely involved in designing the available products, beginning with a line of women's t-shirts, which will be available for $29.99 as part of the site's monthly opt-out model, which will be structured like a book-of-the-month club. The site will offer personalized shopping suggestions to customers based on an algorithm that factors in style quizzes and purchase history – think Netflix suggestions for fashion. The success of the site will depend on the effectiveness of the tailored suggestions, whether or not it's easy to use, and the appeal of the exclusive Olsen-designed offerings, but one thing's for sure: Mary Kate & Ashley might be sitting on a heap of cash, but they aren't slackers.  [WWD]

Aerin Lauder, another high-profile fashion face that isn't resting on her laurels, is taking a step back from her position as senior vice president and creative director at Estee Lauder to launch her own beauty brand. Aerin will stay at her grandmother's company as a creative consultant and spokesperson, but she'll shift her energies towards building her own luxury brand. Lauder plans to develop a cosmetic and fragrance line, as well as accessories and home accessories collections. [WWD]

After last year's disastrous $1 sale at TheOutnet.com, I made a personal resolution to never again think about or mention the website responsible for the most depressing shopping experience of my life. I talked the sale up to some friends, even my mom, and was SO excited by the prospect of a lovely gift arriving in my mailbox in a few weeks that I didn't go out the night before, just in case the sale launched at midnight. It didn't. Instead, the good people at Outnet decided to make their wares available at the crack of dawn, 6:30 AM. By the time I woke up (let's not add to my misery by getting into the details of my sleep schedule at the time), everything was so very sold out that I spent the entire day cursing into my iced coffee and swearing off clothing, shopping, and the internet for the rest of my life (obviously wasn't a successful intiative). I wasn't the only victim of the Outnet's short-sighted attempt to drum up some attention for their site: today, there are 564 members of the Facebook group, "The Outnet Stole My Friday!!!" Anyway, The Outnet just sent out a press release announcing their second anniversary $2 sale, and I guess I have to give them credit for copping to their mistakes and making an effort to smooth out last year's infuriating kinks. Instead of offering a free-for-all, first-come-first-serve sale, The Outnet is limiting the sale to 2,000 shoppers, and access to the discounted wares is determined by lottery. I'll be monitoring this situation very closely, but in the meantime, you have my permission to enter the draw. Good luck! [TheOutnet]

I've already mentioned that the Spring issue of VIVA! included a splendid photoshoot of Karl Lagerfeld in his natural habitat (his Paris apartment), but it isn't the only treat in this issue of the Polish fashion quarterly. Fashion's favorite, er, exemplar of androgyny, transgendered model Andrej Pejic, is photographed by Marcin Tyszka for a tough and sexy spread. [DesignScene]

In a more ridiculous part of Eastern Europe's fashion world, Russian spy Anna Chapman (the topless redhead that dominated NYPost coverage for about a month last year after her Russian spy ring was busted by the feds) not only walked at Moscow Fashion Week, but she also dropped her gun as she was coming down the catwalk. Smooth! I have a romance novel project on the backburner, a sexy espionage thriller based on Anna Chapman (intellectual property alert!) and I'm going to have to find a way to work in a scene like this. Maybe in my novel, the spy can drop her gun while walking at NYFW and cause a mass panic among everyone in attendance, until Anna Wintour calmly pulls out a custom-made Cartier pistol from her clutch, mounts the runway, and proceeds to mock the spy's leather pants as the two Annas play Russian Roulette? And just as Anna Wintour's about to shoot, the FBI storms the tent to arrest Chapman, but the operation's sabotaged by the main agent, who's hopelessly in love with Chapman. The FBI agent and the Russian spy use fake names to check into a dingy motel in Queens, make passionate love, and say things like, "I don't know what to do," and "we can never be together," and "let's just run away and leave this all behind us." Meanwhile, back at Lincoln Center, the frustrated agents drag Anna Wintour into custody and spend four days questioning her. Wintour misses the rest of New York Fashion Week, including the Rodarte show, and is released with a fine for carrying a firearm without the proper license. [Jezebel]

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