November 21, 2008, 12:00 AM

Apparel & Accessories

(Page 9 of 9)

“It’s important for us to have a lot of different touch-points with our customers. They are very passionate about action sports and music and art and we’re fortunate they’re also very passionate about their relationship with Vans,” says Chris Overholser, senior communications manager responsible for lifestyle marketing at Vans, a division of VF Outdoor Inc. “Online community can bring all of our events to customers who could not attend them. And we can export our culture, getting to an even broader audience.”

Vans has added a new way to export its brand: mobile marketing. Customers can sign up to receive news on any of nine topics via text messages. Entering the mobile realm puts the shoemaker a step ahead of the competition.

“Vans is a classic example of lifestyle retailing,” says Maris Daugherty, a senior consultant at retail consulting firm J.C. Williams Group Ltd. “From skate park pages to mobile marketing to podcasts, the site visitor has no difficulty in understanding that the product this site sells is for a unique group of people. Surfing the site makes the Vans visitor feel like they can be part of something far bigger than clothing.” Back to top

Community effort
At it’s a snap for shoppers to share and compare ensembles. It doesn’t require battling crowds at the mall, waiting for a dressing room or asking a sales associate for another item off the rack.

With just a few clicks, shoppers can mix and match more than 25,000 outfits at Wet Seal Inc.’s latest creation: a digital community. What started as one element of a broader web site redesign has morphed into a thriving fashion enclave with 30,000 members who’ve viewed more than two million pages at

“The digital community gives our shoppers interactive ways to create their own unique look, store their selections and share their designs with family and friends,” says Wet Seal director of e-commerce Adam Silverman. “A woman who’s newly engaged may want advice on what’s trendy and appropriate to wear to a dinner with her fiancé’s family. She can create her own look using the tools we’ve created within the community.”

The community, which Wet Seal created and launched in April with help from web site design firm Fry Inc., is a social area where shoppers can create, share, save and post outfits to a virtual runway for visitors to view and rate. They can also purchase the combinations online. Amateur designers also can add and exchange messages with their network of chosen friends and choose a stylist screen name.

Shoppers don’t have to become members to put together an outfit or rate other ensembles, but only members can save outfits to access later and to post to the virtual runway. Registered users can name their ensembles and tag them with keywords such as “beach” or “going to work.”

“What makes the site work well is the blend of social networking and e-commerce because the result is a unique interaction,” says Betsy Emery, founder and chief executive officer of Tellus, a retail web site design firm. “The community is a great way for shoppers to get ‘hands on’ with the merchandise, share with a friend and complete a purchase.” Back to top

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