There's a trend emerging on the Internet, and it isn't pretty. Well, it is pretty, but it's bad news for those of us with absolutely nothing to add to the conversation. Those of us without a sense of style.
I'm the kind of guy who thinks the protagonist in The Devil Wears Prada looked better before she started dressing in the latest styles and became popular with her coworkers. But apparently there are a lot of people who disagree with me. And based on the popularity of sites like PopSugar and Glam, this trend is making its way to the Internet big time.
Three new companies are testing out a new kind of social network – centered around (mostly) women's fashion. In particular, the fashion of the users themselves is the primary content of these networks. All of these sites encourage members to take photos of themselves in new outfits and post them on the site. Social networks spring up around and between members, who comment on each other's outfits, add people as friends, etc.
The oldest startup in this space is Los Angeles-based StyleDiary, which launched in May 2005. CEO Patricia Handschiegel started the company with her co-founder William Kapke after being in the fashion industry for years. StyleDiary has lots of passionate users, and Handshiegel tells me they are rolling out new social networking features in the near future. The only problem with the site is the poor quality of the photographs – users tend to take the photos themselves, with a mirror, often using a camera phone in poor lighting. The results are often less than great. The company says they are working on ways to auto-enhance photographs to increase quality.
ShareYourLook is a more recent entrant. They've copied most of the interesting features of StyleDiary and have added more “web 2.0″ features like photo ratings and bios. The result is a more user friendly site, although the image quality issue plagues them as well.
The final site, yet to launch, Shoutfit. This is a Y Combinator company that we first mentioned in November along with a few other's in the Y Combinator family. There isn't much information out yet on Shoutfit, but from what we hear it will be similar to StyleDiary and ShareYourLook.