If a shoppable Pinterest focused solely on fashion and beauty sounds intriguing, you’ll want to check out new style upstart SparkRebel.
Launching out of private beta on Wednesday, the New York-based site has a layout reminiscent of Pinterest’s and similar functions, but with several key differences. During a pre-launch site demo sesh with SparkRebel Marketing Director Lindsay Anvik, it was clear that the company hopes the urge to purchase, and not just to peruse pretty pictures, will be enough to convince new users to give it a try, whether or not they’ve built up significant presences on its predecessor. Unlike Pinterest, SparkRebel has ecommerce built into the platform. That means you can scroll through images and click through affiliate links to shops selling the specific products and brands you like.
And while SparkRebel narrows its focus to fashion and beauty, it offers more significantly more options under those headings: there are some 19 different fashion and beauty categories available on SparkRebel, including the sure-to-be-entertaining fashion disasters and a section on maternity style. In contrast, Pinterest casts a much wider net in general, but lumps the majority of fashion content into a handful of broader categories such as women’s apparel and hair & beauty.
That kind of content parsing will no doubt appeal to some users, but the real draw of the site seems to be the features it offers to brands.
“Our primary goal is to help brands and to find members that are super engaged,” Anvik explained during a recent phone convo.
To that end, the company will do much of the heavy-lifting involved in pulling in brand product images and organizing them into the proper categories so they’ll be easily found by users. That has the potential to be pretty valuable to companies who want to reach users this way, but have, thus far, spent a lot of manpower getting images onto social platforms even though they lack easy purchasing options to their users. Users can also follow brands, keep up on brands’ latest items and create brand-specific collections that others can follow.
The site also offers opportunities for bloggers and other users to build followings by creating collections of images they’ve “sparked” from their own web sites, others around the web or via upload.
With a brand list that roves from the trendy and inexpensive (Wet Seal, Payless and dELIA’s) to mid-priced designer labels (Elizabeth & James, Nanette Lepore, Trina Turk) and even includes a few small, independent names (Pretty Little Thing), SparkRebel does offer a wide range of merchandise to ogle. A more refined look and feel (the pink and green are a little jarring and teenage-y compared to the simplicity of sites like Pinterest or Polyvore) might help it gain more traction among fashion-savvy users who really value a clean, sophisticated visual experience. But for the moment, the key question mark will no doubt be a matter of building an active user base that makes for the kind of entertaining content discovery experience that, in turn, hooks newly engaged fans.
In the meantime, you’ll find us perusing the newly added merch (and, let’s be real, peeking at the fashion disasters from time to time).
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