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Net fashion store joins FairMarket auction network

DesignerOutlet.com announces it is setting up an online auction site with the help of FairMarket in the latest example of online auction mania.

It's a case of designer fashion meets online flea market.

Online fashion store DesignerOutlet.com announced today that it is setting up an online auction site with the help of auction technology provider FairMarket in the latest example of online auction mania. Slated to launch Nov. 12, DesignerOutlet's new site will be a part of the FairMarket's network of auction sites, which includes Microsoft Network, Excite@Home and Dell Computer.

DesignerOutlet has joined a laundry list of companies that have jumped into auctions recently. Adult-entertainment company Playboy announced earlier this month that its Web site will be joining the FairMarket network in December. Last month, the Disney-aligned Go Network launched an auction site as well.

Such sites are trying to get a boost from the popularity of online auctions. Consumers tend to visit auction sites more often and stay longer than they do on normal retail sites.

DesignerOutlet chief executive Lauren Battista said the company hopes to tap into the traffic of some of the portals that are also on the network. Battista said DesignerOutlet will use the auction to offer clothes that the company would not sell on its retail site, such as sweaters that come in odd or only select sizes. The company also will open the auction site to customers, allowing them to offer new and second-hand clothes, she said.

"We'll allow people to put up their own treasures," Battista said. "We see this as an add-on to our business and a service to our customers."

In addition, sites such as DesignerOutlet are hoping to grab a stake in the booming consumer online auction market, which Gomez Advisors projects will grow to $15.5 billion in 2001 from $1.57 billion in 1998.

Launched in 1996, DesignerOutlet offers brand-name items by Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as designer fashions. The company typically sells such clothes at 35 percent to 75 percent off their list price.