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Tech Industry

Big retail names line up behind new fashion site

Start-up Glam.com combines online magazine and Web mall, with help from Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and others.

When it comes to buying clothes, most women still prefer the mall to the Web. But Glam.com, a fashion site that's set to launch next week, is looking to change that.

The site, run by a group of Internet and fashion industry veterans, offers pages of sleek women's fashion editorial along the lines of InStyle and Lucky magazines, updated daily by a team of fashion editors, merchandisers and stylists. Click on any item, and the site takes you directly to an online store that sells it. Glam.com's retail partners include Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's. They've agreed to pay Glam.com between 12 percent and 24 percent of every sale that comes through the site.

Glam Media, the start-up behind the site, has signed up 60 or so retail partners so far. They include major department stores as well as designer boutiques in New York and Los Angeles, according to details on the Glam.com site. Its editorial and management team include a former publisher of Elle, a contributor to InStyle, and former marketing chiefs from Yahoo and Versace.

The company is treading some new ground, according to an analyst familiar with its plans.

"This is a very different approach to online shopping," said Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies. "Taking a magazine approach and feel and integrating that into an online shopping experience is really brand-new."

A representative for Glam Media declined to comment on the company's plans ahead of its Tuesday launch.

Yet Glam.com, based in Brisbane, Calif., faces some challenges. Women generally like to try on clothes before buying them. Only 9 percent of people who participated in a Gallup Poll survey earlier this year agreed with the statement: "I prefer to purchase apparel online rather than stores." Seventy-seven percent disagreed.

That fact has tripped up other online fashion ventures, including the U.K.'s Boo.com and cosmetics specialist Eve.com.

But Glam.com is planning to tap into the online advertising boom, so it won't be entirely dependent on e-commerce revenue, Bajarin said. It's also incorporating some features that may convert more browsers into shoppers, he noted. For instance, Glam.com will display customized content to visitors based on their responses to style surveys and quizzes. It's also planning to incorporate a social-networking feature, so visitors can create their own online style profiles and link to those of friends.

However, the site, geared to women between the ages of 25 and 54 with designer tastes, is not for the bargain hunter. Glam.com will offer no price or product comparisons, and the emphasis is on luxury. Another drawback is that visitors must register and sign in to access many parts of the site.

Glam Media, which has 40 employees, has raised $11 million in start-up capital. Venture investors include Accel Partners and Draper Fisher Juverston.