Fashion

Mariotti: Technology advancements give new experiences for online shoppers

In the past decade, shopping has become much more than simply heading to the mall. The Internet has revolutionized shopping so that you can shop at home in your underwear (if that’s your thing). You can shop items hand-picked by your favorite celebrities, rent fashionable items at a discount and even virtually try on clothes.

But the biggest trend in online shopping goes past e-commerce and into subscriptions — they’re now for more than just magazines. Users can subscribe to a flat-rate monthly shoe delivery (ShoeMint.com), a monthly beauty sample delivery (Birchbox.com) or a monthly jewelry delivery (SendtheTrend.com).

If that seems like overkill, I agree.

If I bought a pair of shoes every month, I would have a full closet and an empty wallet. But these subscriptions, unlike magazine subscriptions, allow the user to skip a month if there isn’t anything they want or need.

The other perk of this model is that the items for sale are hand-selected by fashion experts. Inn the case of the BeachMint brands – ShoeMint, JewelMint and StyleMint – celebrity fashion experts hand-pick the items for subscribers (Rachel Bilson, Kate Bosworth and the Olsen twins, respectively). Subscription commerce has the possibility of draining your bank account, so a good alternative is renting services.

RentTheRunway.com is exactly what it sounds like: You can rent designer dresses you’ve been drooling over but could never afford. While you admittedly won’t find any Chanel or Dior, there are Diane von Furstenberg dresses, Rebecca Minkoff handbags and Dannijo jewels for deeply discounted prices. The rental periods are four or eight days. Then, just send the items back. It’s perfect for broke college students wanting to dress to impress at a special event.

The newest, somewhat controversial, renting service is Lacquerous.com. Lacquerous lets the user rent luxury nail polish from brands like Chanel, NARS, Deborah Lippmann and Dior. Subscribers are sent three colors and, after painting their nails, send them back to get three new colors.

Understandably, people were grossed out by the concept of sharing nail polish with strangers. I was, too, until I realized that every time I get a manicure I’m sharing with strangers as well. The only downside to this service is the price. While $18 a month is less than buying one bottle of Chanel nail polish, it would still add up to $216 a year on nail polish. While I love a new bottle of polish, I’m also a student who unfortunately has to spend that money on books.

Online shopping seems like the obvious choice simply for convenience, but the downside is that you can’t try on the items. Soon, with the help of augmented reality developer Zugara, online shoppers will be able to try clothes on virtually. The company developed the Webcam Social Shopper, which uses your computer’s webcam to create a simulated view of what a wearable item would actually look like on your body.

I can’t wait for this technology to be featured on my favorite e-commerce sites. While that tan blazer may look great on a J.Crew model, I can avoid the disappointment when it arrives and the shade makes me look a bit washed out. Zugara’s technology also implements a social element. Users can take pictures of their virtual ensembles and share them on social media websites like Facebook or Twitter.

Technology and fashion may seem like they’re on two different spheres, but they’re more intertwined than ever. Shopping is easier, more fun and more interactive with each new online shopping model. While Destiny USA may be enough for some, trying out some of these new revolutionary shopping sites can lead to a more exceptional look.

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