Google serves it haute

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A new website may change the way you think about personal style, says Aastha Atray Banan

Illustration: Naorem Ashish

THERE IS a reason why fanatic female shoppers don’t take their partners along on their shopping sprees. It’s because most men kill the excitement of the “browse”. But with its newly-launched fashion portal, Boutiques.com, Google is telling all women that it understands them.
Boutiques.com works on a simple albeit ingenious thought — we browse, Google pays attention. Unlike your spouse, who, after five years of being married, may still not know that you wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of platforms, Boutiques doesn’t want to rub you the wrong way. And like the man we all wish we had, it listens to you as you tell it all your fashion desires, and secretly analyses your style. The process is fun, even though you feel you are in kindergarten. There are two pictures on your screen — Kim Kardashian in a figure hugging animal print dress and Carey Mulligan in a demure Chanel Little Black Dress (LBD). And though you can’t steer your eyes away from Kardashian’s rear, wishing it was yours, you have to choose one as your style, or maybe none. A few actresses, designers and even choosing between cocktails (red wine or sweet lime) later, it’s time to tell Boutiques the silhouettes (maxis or minis), colours (blues or beiges), shoe styles (clogs or ballerinas), patterns (stripes or flowery) and designers (Lauren or DKNY) you love or loathe. Yes, it’s that detailed! All the games lead to one final conclusion — whether your style is ‘classic’, ‘edgy’, ‘romantic’, ‘boho’, ‘street’ or ‘casual chic’. And voila, you have a boutique of your own.
Here is when Boutiques.com reveals its trump card — since it already knows what you love, it will help you browse through just that. No maxi-style sweater dresses will pop up when you search for dresses, as it remembers you loathed that. If your style is classic, smart LBDs, cute ballerinas and satchel bags will pop up; if you’re a boho, printed flowery dresses, and eclectic chappals line up. A panel on the side even gives style lessons or how else will you pair that paisley scarf with that denim skirt? You could also take style inspiration from the celeb and blogger boutiques —maybe follow Brit actress Mulligan, whose Audrey Hepburn dresses have made her a fashion icon, or take a leaf out of Mary Kate Olsen’s book, and channel your inner goth.

Compared to Boutiques, Ebay actually seems frumpy and could remind you of shopping at Sarojini Nagar in Delhi

Compared to Boutiques, Ebay actually seems frumpy and could remind you of shopping at Sarojini Nagar in Delhi (where only a good hunt yields results). Net-A-Porter could seem too expensive and exclusive. Also, none of these sites offer you personalised options. But though Boutiques could be called pathbreaking, as it provides you with a virtual stylist of your own, its clever design could be its drawback. Would a fashionista really want to be pigeonholed into dressing a particular way all the time? Just because you were analysed as a ‘classic’ dresser, does it mean you can’t rock the leopard print Manolo Blahniks? It snatches your chance of scoping out the options, like you would in a real store. Does Google want to curb the trait women are known for — changing their minds about what they want?
Though Boutiques is not available to other shoppers outside the US now, Google promises it will reach the nether corners of the world soon. But after browsing for hours, choosing that perfect LBD that will flatter your curves, and then hitting the buy button, will Indians be able to bear the blow of shipping charges? How will you solve this problem, Google?
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