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Now Mountain View Will Tell Us What to Wear

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The New York Times has so far covered today's launch of Google's new fashion e-commerce site in its Fashion and Style section, not in the Business pages. But given the high marks the beta site has already been granted, it's hard to see how Amazon, Ebay, and smaller sites, like Gilt and Ideeli, could not be nervous.

From a shopper's standpoint, the new Google site is astounding. As the Times writer explains, " has so many capabilities and components that even Google engineers have a hard time qualifying it."

The site "is a collection of hundreds of virtual boutiques merchandised — or, in the new parlance, “curated” — by designers, retailers, bloggers, celebrities and regular folks. You can shop in the style of, say, the actress Carey Mulligan or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen — among the celebrities who signed up for the launch — or you can build your own boutique and amass followers who can comment on your taste.", says the Times, "could change how people shop for clothes."

That was enough to make me sign on. If this was history in the making, I wanted to be there.

After creating an account, I decided to follow just two local designers, one of which I was FIRST to reach. (Take a look at the number of designers one can choose from, here.) It didn't take long for Google's technology --powered by to impress. In my case, the Google bot selected a jacket it had a hunch I'd like. It was not wrong. I was ready to purchase the navy, military-style trench immediately.


There was one problem with the jacket, however: it was selling for $545. Not a match. When I clicked a button saying I disliked the price, a new batch of clothing appeared. This time there was a coat selling for $1,200. Wrong direction!

I suppose the engineers in Mountain View have yet to incorporate into their mind-boggling algorithm whatever data the company has on a user's disposal income. (And it must have this data somewhere.) But given that Americans are expected to spend $25 billion buying clothes and accessories online this year, I'm sure it won't be long before Google knows exactly what I want to wear, and what I can afford to wear, well before I do.
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