VIVIANLIVES, STYLESHOP IN WEB JOINT VENTURE
Byline: Peter Braunstein
NEW YORK — In an alliance that marks a tangible progression in the selling power of online fashion avatars, Vivian Livingston, the fictional protagonist of VivianLives.com, has sealed an alliance with e-tail fashion site StyleShop.com.
Starting Friday, the animated style icon will sign on as ‘guest celebrity editor’ of StyleShop.com, aiming to drive business to the Web site by seamlessly scattering select StyleShop merchandise across her virtual one-bedroom apartment. Shoppers enticed by the diverse offerings can click through to StyleShopDirect.com, the e-commerce outlet of StyleShop.com, to purchase the items.
Sherrie Krantz, founder and chief executive officer of Forever After Inc., the corporate parent of VivianLives.com, explained the avatar’s prospective appeal to StyleShop.com’s clientele. “Vivian is your mass girl, she doesn’t buy designer, she loves vintage, she’s all about tomboy-chic and doesn’t want to go into debt over a trend,” explained Krantz. Vivian is also quite a cyber-entrepreneur. Having made her debut in December 1999, Vivian quickly acquired a substantial following among girls and women aged 15 to 30, among whom she became, in Krantz’s words, “a mentor/best friend/big sister/editor.” Krantz claimed 900,000 hits on her VivianLives.com site for the month of August alone, but refused to disclose the number of unique visitors. (Media Metrix, which detects Web sites with more than 200,000 unique visitors per month, had no record of VivianLives.com for the month of August.) Vivian proceeded to sign on with Yahoo Shopping this past May as a fashion adviser, directing portal shoppers toward niche designers, and hip trends.
“I found out about the Vivian site about three months ago,” said Lisa Boyne, founder and chief executive of StyleShop.com, “and I noticed a good match between who she is, who she talks to and what we are.” Boyne, whose e-commerce fashion hub specializing in indie designers tends to attract women ages 20 to 30, admitted, “We’re a little concerned that girls who read Vivian are a little young for us,” but acknowledged the avatar’s uncanny style sense may prove alluring to StyleShop.com’s slightly older demographic. At any given time, two to six items drawn from StyleShopDirect.com will be showcased at VivianLives.com. StyleShop.com will also host Vivian’s virtual “Stoop Sale,” featuring merchandise hand-picked by Vivian, picked up in the course of her “travels,” and “sold” from the stoop of her apartment in virtual NoLIta. According to Boyne, VivianLives.com will receive a revenue share from any items sold on StyleShopDirect.com via click-throughs from VivianLives.com.
Boyne also shed light on Krantz’s insight into, and identification with, the Vivian Livingston character. “Vivian is the spitting image of Sherrie,” explained Boyne, “except that Vivian is taller.” And to think so many of us assumed that Vivian was just another fashionista avatar living in NoLIta.