By  on August 16, 2010

In an effort to grow its apparel business, eBay has made recent investments in technology. Now it’s investing in people.

Miriam Lahage has been named general manager of eBay Fashion, a new position. A 20-year veteran of The TJX Cos. Inc., Lahage founded, an online discount luxury boutique based in the U.K. Most recently, Lahage has been working with Natalie Massenet at Net-a-porter, helping expand that company’s off-price site, The Outnet.

At eBay, Lahage will be responsible for growing and driving innovation across the site’s fashion category, which did $5.4 billion in worldwide gross merchandise volume last year. Lahage will be based in San Jose, Calif., reporting to Dinesh Lathi, vice president of North America of eBay Marketplaces.

Lahage said part of her job will be to attract more brands to eBay, “to give a fashion and editorial point of view [to the site],” she said.

Lahage wants to bring more consistency to the apparel presentation on eBay’s selling platforms. The largest online clothing seller, eBay organizes fashion by garment type and era, for vintage. EBay has refined search results and browsing capabilities to make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for, while a new mobile app allows users to window shop virtually. Lahage will also help the casual sellers and entrepreneurs who offer 20 million fashion items a day present their products and enhance the selling experience.

“There are 10 million fashion buyers,” Lahage said, referring to eBay’s customers. “There needs to be multiple points of view. Figuring out how to curate [fashion] is a matter of using the technology and a bit of merchandising imagination in a way that’s right for the customer.”

EBay’s online Fashion Outlet Mall features storefronts for brands such as Brooks Brothers, Timberland, Aldo and Calvin Klein. The brands control the look of their landing pages and product images. EBay is using its analytics and data on most-searched brands to identify future enterprise partners.

She said she’d like to implement a “good, better, best strategy” so “customers feel comfortable with the brands and price ranges. One reason eBay wanted to bring in people with slightly more traditional retail experience is to bring a framework to the brands.”

She added that she’s speaking with several designers about doing collections exclusively for eBay and selling on Fashion Vault, which holds 72-hour flash sales. “I have strong relationships in a lot of different places,” she said.

While flash-sale sites like Rue La La and Gilt Groupe seem to be multiplying exponentially, Lahage said there’s no shortage of product. “There’s more supply than any of us can possibly imagine,” she explained. “We’ll never run out of goods.”

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