Wed, Jan 12, 2011 - Page 13 News List

Arbiters of style see it, post it and share it

New Web sites are melding social networking functionality with the style consciousness of fashion-forward users

By AUSTIN CONSIDINE  /  NY Times News Service, New York

Not everyone can be a famous couturier. Or a paparazzi-flanked celebrity. But for us mortals, a generation of emerging Web sites could make a legitimate tastemaker of anyone with an eye for what’s fashionable.

Melding social networking and the style maven’s obsession with all things beautiful, sites like Fancy ( and Svpply ( have emerged recently, letting users shop and fetishize while creating and sharing things they like with friends and followers, from clothes to art to gadgets.

Joseph Einhorn, Fancy’s founder, estimated that some 10,000 users had registered since September.

“The media industry has been really focused on trying to take the physical versions of their magazines and repurpose the look and feel to the Internet,” Einhorn said of the idea behind Fancy. “But what we thought they were missing was the action, the experience. And the experience here is really like ripping out a page from a magazine.”

To contribute, users employ a simple tool known as a “bookmarklet” in their Web browsers. When they see something they like on another site, a few clicks allow them to select the image, describe it, then add it to their personal feeds, where it’s automatically linked back to the page where it was found.

Fancy’s iPhone app lets users photograph things they like on the street, linking them to the Web and to a geographic location.

Fancy takes cues from Twitter and Facebook: Users “follow” others whose tastes they like. (Ashton Kutcher uses Fancy; his recent picks include a sundial ring and a “hand soap” dish holding hand-shaped soap). Algorithms that discern an item’s popularity among users and the track record of the person posting it decide what is on the home page.

Users who generate a lot of interest are rewarded with honorary titles like “editor” or “art director” for their curatorial prowess.

Fancy’s current “editor-in-chief,” Seema Hamid, a German-born photographer, stylist and designer, seems to have built her following through a keen sense of taste and her frequent contributions to the site. And like any savvy social media user, she’s using Fancy to promote her own work.

“It’s a great platform to share my design aesthetic and photography with the rest of the world,” said Hamid, who is based in San Francisco. “I do a lot of fashion shoots, and Fancy comes in quite handy, since I can tag my subjects’ ensemble with the appropriate designer names and links and, if you really fancy it, you can purchase the clothes within a matter of clicks.” uses a similar bookmarklet and has its own user-follower community, but it is even more shopping oriented. The site tries to ensure that all its items are purchasable, relying on user feedback, an in-house editorial staff and tracking software. Users and shoppers can tailor browsing by category (shoes, tech, apparel, etc.) and prices.

Zach Klein, a Svpply founder, likened it to online window-shopping, in a store filled only with what a person likes.

“People don’t go to Amazon to just browse for the fun of it,” he said. “It’s simply a destination for something specific. We’re finding that people are pleased to just sort of browse again.”

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