How Google is making street style shoppable at New York Fashion Week

Google’s getting into the search now, buy now game. The search giant today unveiled a new fashion week-centric search feature that helps mobile users easily access a show schedule, view images from each collection, get access behind-the-scenes content directly supplied by certain designers and buy looks seen both on and off the runway.

The fashion week content can be found by searching “Fashion Week” or “designer + Fashion Week” in Google.

Users will be able to buy items directly off the runway from brands such as Burberry and Tom Ford, in addition to shopping the current season of Prada, Christopher Kane and more. Google brought on Kate Lanphear, the former editor in chief of Maxim, to consult on the project, which will extend through all the international collections.

And since the hubbub around the shows includes a heavy emphasis on what the fashion crowd off the cat walks is wearing, the search giant will also help searchers browse and shop street style trends.

Since so much street style content resides within closed channels — including apps such as Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat — Google is not able to index much of that data. For that, they tapped RewardStyle, the platform that helps bloggers monetize the items they wear in posts.

RewardStyle, and its LiketoKnow.it product for Instagram, lets its network of 10,000 bloggers tag uploaded photos with trends and brands. When someone clicks through on that blogger’s content and buys the item, the blogger makes money. This content is typically not indexable by search engines, said RewardStyle founder Amber Box. Now, as part of a two-part pilot that coincides with fashion weeks in New York, London, Paris and Milan, the “1,000 pieces of street style flowing through on a daily basis” will be a shoppable.

When the blogger tags content with a retailer, of which there are 4,000 on the platform, Google will be one of the platforms on which the blogger can elect to syndicate content. This, said Box, “connects the dots to shop the look.”

Google, she said, “realized the importance of ingesting style-centric content, and they want it to happen on their platform and not, for example, on Pinterest.”

For now, Box said, there is no “fee structure.”

A second part of the RewardStyle and Google partnership is focused on “contextual search” — when someone searches, for instance, “what to wear to a wedding in Austin.” During a pilot period, Google will index 1 percent of searches, totaling a couple hundred million searches to get a sense of the value this brings to RewardStyle’s influencers and, ostensibly, to Google. This portion of the pilot is not tied to fashion week and will go on for several months; it also does not currently include payment between Google and RewardStyle, Box said.

This partnership could eventually pay off — for bloggers, for brands and for Google. RewardStyle estimates that in 2016, its platform overall will drive more than $700 million in retail sales as its influencers create content with about 400,000 products each month. In the five years since its founding, Rewardstyle has driven an estimated $1 billion in retail sales. Bloggers and brands must be accepted into the platform to participate and top bloggers using the platform can make as much as $500,000 in one month through affiliate links.

This is the first time the search engine has created something of this sort for fashion week, but the overall approach has previously been tested with events such as the Olympics, Coachella, the Oscars and more.

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