The startup world can’t seem to get enough new fashion-focused companies these days (or rather, lots of startup founders have discovered women are a great target audience in the wake of Pinterest’s soaring growth). So here’s another entry to whet your collective social shopping whistles: Boutine.com. Similar in some respects to Polyvore, as it also enables women to browse and create new looks by mix-and-matching items, Boutine’s key difference is that it aims to be the place you buy those items, too.
According to founder Pramod Dabir, he was inspired to try his hand at a fashion startup after years of working in investment banking (yes, really) thanks to a little inspiration from his then fiancee, now wife. She was at Stanford Business School, and was living in a house with six other girls. So he was there, too. That really opened his eyes to how women interacted with fashion. One of the women at the house was more fashionable than the others, he noted, so she would give the others fashion advice. And these women would even make purchasing decisions based on her suggestions. The idea, then, much like with Polyvore, is to try to take that “fashion inspiration” and curation angle to the Internet. Hence, Boutine.
But Boutine isn’t just a social-sharing site centered around fashion. It’s an online store. Sourcing items from a variety of indie designers, over half of whom are international, Boutine organizes and presents the pieces in a drag-and-drop interface where women can create looks using tops, bottoms, dresses, handbags, jewelry and other accessories. Of some 300 signups from designers, Boutine curated the selection down to just 75 designers, with help from a team of experts from the fashion industry. Today, there are around 2,000 individual items on the site, with an average price of $150 per item.
In addition to the mix-and-matching Boutine allows, users can also add their own Instagram photos to their collections (as the outfits or outfit groups are called). This allows them to start with a photo of something they already own, then find other items to match with it. For example, you could find a necklace to complement a date-night dress, or some new jeans to go with a shirt you love. When collections are complete, they can be shared to all the usual places – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or even blogs via embed codes or a WordPress plugin.
When a shopper decides to buy, the entire checkout happens on Boutine itself – it’s not an affiliate site, Dabir says. According to the site FAQ, Boutine charges a 20% commission on products sold, and Stylists (that’s you) would receive a 10% commission for putting the look together. Boutine collects the total commission and distributes the appropriate amount to the Boutique Owner, meaning the bloggers, stylists, and fashion enthusiast who are the active participants building collections on the site.
The company has been quietly running in beta for about a month, and while it’s too early to disclose user numbers and traction, the initial engagement times the startup is seeing are promising, says Dabir. “For the registered users, the average time on site has been about 25 minutes,” he says. “And they usually come back to the site about 3 to 4 times a month.”
Boutine is currently bootstrapped with money from friends and family, but it’s in the process of raising seed funding now.