NEW YORK — Leveraging its close ties with the entertainment business, PurpleSkirt.com, a three-year-old e-tailer focusing on contemporary designers, has struck an alliance with Warner Bros. Online to launch a fashion boutique in cyberspace.

The online shop, tentatively dubbed WB Celebrity Style, is slated to go live on April 1, at PurpleSkirt.com as well as the movie studio’s site, WarnerBros.com, WWD has learned. The site — which is expected to carry apparel worn in various Warner Bros. TV and film vehicles, along with other items — was soft-launched Tuesday for testing.

PurpleSkirt plans to feature around 50 items in the WB boutique and the dot-com’s chief executive officer, Stephanie Cone, said she aims to keep the assortment “small and selective.” PurpleSkirt currently features 50 brands of apparel and beauty (a category it added last September); claims 100,000 registered users of its virtual closet storage tool, and has found that 75 percent of those repeat customers are seeking “something their friends don’t have.”

Meanwhile, PurpleSkirt.com has something a lot of its competitors don’t. “We became profitable last year,” Cone said Thursday, adding that sales totaled $1 million in 2001, up 30 percent from 2000. She expects volume to hit $1.5 million this year. According to Cone, less than $3 million has been invested so far in the site.

According to Cohen, it’s partly Purple Skirt’s think-small-to-grow-big strategy that convinced Warner Bros. Online to green-light the project, which she said has spent a long time in development. “We do our own buying,” she noted. “There’s no third-party [wholesaler] which means better margins. They wanted to do a deal with a smaller player.”

With fashion taking a higher profile in TV shows and movies over the past decade, PurpleSkirt has made it its mission to offer the country’s consumers fashion reflecting a Hollywood point of view. Last January, for instance, the e-tailer signed on “Sex and the City” stylist Patricia Field to buy apparel for the site. Live since November 1999, PurpleSkirt.com was founded by comedian Tracey Ullman, Hollywood producer Cone, and Jeannine Braden, Hollywood stylist and owner of Fred Segal Flair.

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