November 30th, 2010
We’ve all seen them. Miles Davis with his world-weary glare, James Deans hands shoved deeply in his pockets, Audrey in Paris or Dylan just being Dylan — photos that capture the elusive cool that establishes and defines our cultural icons. Photoblog The Impossible Cool has been serving daily doses of effortless awesome for years now, posting vintage photos of celebrities in especially enviable moments. Recently, though, a few sites are taking the concept further, breaking down iconoclasts into monetizable units of cool.
Nerd Boyfriend is a lookbook mined from historical photos of cultural icons, approximating their get-ups and selling them to you one piece at a time. A 1973 photo of James Earl Jones copping attitude is followed by a thumbnail of each piece of clothing he wears in the photo. All link out to different stores with clothes inspired by each piece, inviting you to assemble your own arsenal of cool. New Tumblr e-commerce site Of a Kind takes a similar-but-zanier approach, using photos of unexpected and often absurd icons like Kim Jong-Il, Andrew Jackson, and even Hook’s Rufio, and dissects their fashions for purchase.
Together, the ideas make for an interesting trend of mining photos with pre-established cultural cache and selling the cache itself monetizing the desire to actually be in someone elses (infamous) shoes. Rather than hiring a celebrity/model and manufacturing the effortless look that fashionistas pay for, why not use photos that catch icons at their most effortless?
The recent launch of Boutiques.com makes for an interesting extension of this business model, inviting you to pick your favorite living cult of personality and visit their own curated fashion closet. Rather than delivering fashion based on moments-of-cool, Googles new fashion site lets you pick the celebrity, designer or blogger you want to mimic, and gives you hundreds of items chosen by them or inspired by their style.
But is all this really style curation, or is it ultimately just one-click fashion mimicry? And if this behavior continues to surge in popularity, what opportunities present themselves for ecommerce sites?