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This article was published on February 17, 2011

The Rise Of Polyvore: Trendsetting Goes Social.

The Rise Of Polyvore: Trendsetting Goes Social.
Amalia Agathou
Story by

Amalia Agathou

Amalia Agathou is the Community Director for The Next Web. She's studied Information and Communication Systems Engineering and has shared he Amalia Agathou is the Community Director for The Next Web. She's studied Information and Communication Systems Engineering and has shared her time between the startup and fashion scene. She has worked as an editor for The Next Web, House& Garden and Glamour magazine. Follow her on Twitter

Polyvore, a platform that enables its users to easily mix fashion items with drag-and-drop onto a digital canvas to create mood boards, became quickly popular as it managed to put a social spin on something very familiar to all fashion lovers: magazine spreads. Retailers can upload their products on Polyvore, linking through the images directly back to their source showing product information and pricing and fashionistas can share their favorite looks and trends on their social networks.

The Polyvore-mania quickly spread through personal blogs, brands’ Facebook pages, even e-shops, French Connection is one of the brands that have integrated Polyvore on their website. Today many mainstream brands and high-fashion designers work with Polyvore not only to showcase their products, but also to connect with the Polyvore community on a deeper emotional level through creative challenges. For instance the “I Only Sleep in PINK Holiday Challenge” had over 14,000 fashion set entries, while the Michael Kors contest resulted in more than 353.000 Likes for Michael Kors products.

Jennifer Heinen, from Morpheus Media, a digital marketing agency that works with a number of high profile fashion brands, comments:

“Creative platforms such as Polyvore are the future of the social commerce space. Polyvore blurs the line between online channels, especially social media, display advertising and affiliate marketing / comparison shopping. Brands need to be mindful of opportunities outside of traditional online advertising; especially those with the capability to fully integrate onto Facebook (and other social networks). Participants no longer need to leave the Facebook platform to participate in Polyvore challenges now that the Facebook mini editor is an option. These platforms allow users to explore retail presence more easily, enabling smarter shopping. We will start to see more online retailers incorporate a social layer into their efforts to curate looks from their communities. Polyvore allows the user to style and play with those products, making them their own before the point of purchase. Platforms like this have the flexibility for consumers to test-drive different offerings to find out what works in their own wardrobes before investing in an item. Ultimately, this process results in a happier, better converting consumer.”

Do & Don’ts for brands crowdsourcing through Polyvore

We asked Jennifer what she considers the biggest do and don’t for brands when it comes to leveraging platforms like Polyvore for crowdsourcing:

“Brands need to take into consideration what makes the Polyvore community want to participate in a challenge. Product images that are easy to create set with as well as compelling prizes help boost submissions. Leveraging the designer in a video speaking directly to the community creates excitement and buzz. It’s all about understanding how the Polyvore stylist thinks and what drives him or her to take an action. Partnerships with these communities need to be seamless and adapt to the behavior within the community. These platforms are fantastic extensions of the brand’s community, and the better we can integrate something like a Polyvore initiative with the rest of our social strategy the better. The most successful campaigns should feel genuine to the brand and their community. Bergdorf Goodman ( a Morpheus Media client) has excelled in this space by basing contests on some of the brand’s most inspiring creative characteristics; their Holiday Windows and Linda Fargo. This focustruly gives the consumer the opportunity to have their own creative experience with the product offerings.”

Rebecca Minkoff Case Study

Rebecca Minkoff has been one of the designers that not only engaged with the Polyvore community through a series of creative contests, like the Style the Rebecca Minkoff Runway challenge that gave the winners the opportunity to help style her runway at New York Fashion Week and led to 22 million engagements, but also pushed the envelope by asking Polyvore users to design a new version of her iconic Morning After Clutch. The Rebecca Minkoff Runway Design Challenge had more than 6,500 entries and the new ‘Dee’ clutch designed by f21obsessed debuted in Minkoff’s runway show at New York Fashion Week and is hitting stores March 2011. We contacted Rebecca Minkoff to get more information on her Polyvore collaboration:

What has been the impact of your collaboration with Polyvore on your brand so far?

“Partnering with Polyvore over the past few weeks has been a remarkable process. Our customers are consistently seeking new and convenient ways to access the brand, and Polyvore has been a great tool in their next step. Having my customers and Polyvore users be a part of my Fall 2011 collection, has shown that they not only understand my aesthetic but my design theory as well.”

How do you plan to leverage Polyvore and other social media platforms to social commerce?

“I’m always trying to embrace new methods of technology, we’re constantly exploring non-traditional media strategies to maximize our presence. I have my own blog on the Rebecca Minkoff website called “Minkette,” it’s the perfect hub to allow customers to feel not only a deeper connection to me and the brand, but also for me to develop stronger relationships with my consumers, it’s a spot where we integrate the other blogs/websites we follow as well, Polyvore being one of them!”

What do you consider the greatest challenge in working with online communities and co-creating branded content?

It’s always difficult to crown that one winner when there are SO many talented and creative users within each online community.

Bergdorf Goodman Case Study

Bergdorf Goodman, may not have been one of the first retailers to embrace social media, but has done so with great success, being among the brands nominated for this year’s Fashion 2.0 Social Media Awards. Its latest contest invited Polyvore member to style its Fashion Director Linda Fargo, for Fashion Week for a chance to win a personal shopping experience and a seat at Michael Kors runway show. We talked to Mallory Andrews, Senior Vice President, Sales Promotion, Marketing, and PR for Bergdorf Goodman to find out more:

What do you consider the greatest challenge in working with online communities and co-creating branded content?

When it comes to co-creating content for online communities we have found that creating the framework of the contest is the biggest challenge, yet partnering with a creative platform such as Polyvore has allowed us to be wildly imaginative while staying true to our brand. The first contest, where Polyvore stylists were able to design their own Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Window, and the second contest, where they had the opportunity to Dress Linda Fargo, SVP, Fashion Office and Store Presentation, for New York Fashion Week, are natural extensions of the creative characteristics and people at Bergdorf Goodman – The Fifth Avenue Windows, which have truly taken on a life of their own, and Linda Fargo, our very own icon of chic. Both contests received such an overwhelming response. The Dress Linda Fargo for New York Fashion Week contest generated over 5300 entries, therefore choosing a winner from the innovative and ingenious sets proved to be a challenge in itself.

What objective did you set with your Polyvore contests and how will did you measure success?

The first contest, where users were able to design their own Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Window, was somewhat of a test to expand our social strategy and work with the Polyvore community. It was so well-received, which is why we decided to move forward with a second contest – Dress Linda Fargo for New York Fashion Week. While developing both challenges, we wanted to take a key aspect of the Bergdorf Goodman history and culture and bring it to the digital space. There is only one Bergdorf Goodman in the world, so it was the perfect opportunity to take offline experiences and extend it to include the online community.

We measure the success of the contests by the number of sets created, engagements around the contest page, twitter messages, blog and press coverage. What has really resonated with us though, is the excitement we receive from the Polyvore stylists. For example, when they tweet their sets to @Bergdorfs and post their sets to the Bergdorf Goodman Facebook wall. It has been very meaningful to see the community take these key aspects of the Bergdorf Goodman culture and make it their own. Partnering with Polyvore for two challenges has allowed us to share the magic of the creation and unveiling of our holiday windows and the excitement in preparing for New York Fashion Week with new customers.

Crowdsourcing seems to be a big trend for fashion right now, can “luxury” and “fashion democratization” work together?

A strong sense of creativity has always been a keystone for “luxury” and particularly fashion, so it is a very natural extension of that. Giving Bergdorf Goodman consumers the opportunity to voice their perspective in a variety of ways makes a lot of sense to us. Polyvore, in specific, is about creating sets that allow users to take different elements and make them their own. We have found it to be extremely inspiring to see what the Polyvore community has created; individuality and creative freedom is what makes fashion so appealing. The excitement internally has also been astounding when Linda Fargo and David Hoey, Senior Director of Visual Presentation, went through every contribution when reviewing the results of the contests.


Looks like 2011 will be a big year for Polyvore, wondering if this is the year other brands like publication companies, furniture brands, like IKEA, or even tech companies will partner with Polyvore. Brooklyn Museum already did for its American High Style exhibition. Who is next?

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