By  on September 13, 2005

NEW YORK — Glam.com may be a retailer's dream come true: A Web site that looks like a magazine, but whose content can be clicked and bought.

A pre-release version of the luxury fashion shopping site, whose pages look a lot like Lucky or In Style, went live last week. The official launch date is Sept. 19. Glam Media Inc. has signed up 50 retail and brand partners, including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, eLuxury, Net-a-porter, Tracey Ross, Sephora, Kirna Zabête, Macy's, Target and Victoria's Secret.

When a shopper clicks through to a retailer's site and buys a featured sweater or lip gloss, the retailer pays Glam.com a commission of 12 to 24 percent. That's about twice the price most affiliate sites charge. Fashion companies also can advertise on the site.

"The notion of a print media style or fashion magazine that's fully interactive and online is pretty new," said Ben Bajarin, an analyst who covers digital media for Creative Strategies in Campbell, Calif.

The site eventually will have thousands of free-form and templated pages, all of which look hand-coded, but are generated automatically by Glam.com's proprietary software and can be quickly updated when an item runs out. The site will be continually updated daily. Glam.com has done programming behind the scenes so it receives a continuous live data feed of photos and product attributes describing stockkeeping units for sale on the Web sites of its retail partners. Glam.com's merchandisers and editors pick the products they want to feature.

Editorial content will include product layouts grouped around themes such as "best boots" or the color orange. The site also features "style profiles" about celebrities and advice from stylists and other fashion insiders. Shoppers can take quizzes on subjects such as which colors best fits their moods, and then view products sorted according to test results.

The site this year plans to add a social networking component. Fashion aficionados can describe their own styles, favorite designers and "most-wanted" products on their profiles, as well as link to profiles of friends and favorite celebrities. They also can invite their friends to join the site.

Glam Media Inc. of Brisbane, Calif., has received $11 million in venture capital backing from Accel Partners, Draper Fisher Juverston, Walden Venture Capital and Information Capital. Glam founder and chairman Samir Arora is also chairman of Information Capital. Vice president and publishing director Carl Portale was previously publisher at the Elle Group, Harper's Bazaar, Mirabella and Town & Country. So far, the company has about 40 employees, said Arora.Glam.com is not planning any print advertising this year, but will have a sizable budget in 2006, Arora said, without providing specifics.

The target audience ranges in age from mid-20s to mid-50s, with the central core being the Generation X "fashion juggler," a woman in her 30s who lacks time but not disposable income.

Glam.com will not sell any customer data, and shoppers can opt to receive e-mail alerts about news such as designer sales, Arora said.

Glam "could reach a fairly high status as a fashion portal" because it fits in with the recent obsession with luxury and celebrity, said Heather Dougherty, senior retail analyst for Nielsen/NetRatings of New York.

The social networking aspects of the site will reinforce loyalty. "If you're checking your friends' books and what new products they've added, it will drive more visits and possibly longer visits as well because you're looking through your friends' books as well as adding things to your own," she said.

Retailers were enthusiastic about Glam.com, though they added that the sales volume generated by the site was uncertain.

"Glam approached us six months ago, and the combination of a strong management team and previews of the site convinced us we should become one of their launch partners," said Martin Bartle, head of marketing for Net-a-porter, a $21.3 million Internet retailer based in London.

"We've met with so many people over the last couple of years who have approached us about online sales, and this was the first time we felt this was a company that could make it," said Beth Buccini, a co-owner of New York's Kirna Zabête boutique. "They have unbelievable backing, the résumés of the people involved are really impressive, and it seemed like a natural fit."

The store is starting with a small number of items because it already had written its fall orders by the time the partnership was formed. However, if sales are promising, Kirna Zabête will go deeper for spring, Buccini said.

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