Google to apply visual search to high fashion?

November 15, 2010: 12:04 PM ET

An invite to a press event Wednesday has sparked speculation that Google will apply its newly-purchased Like.com assets to help consumers buy clothing they see online and in person this holiday season.

The invite (pictured right) seems to indicate that Google will be joining forces with the fashion industry.  According to Frockwriter, Google will be populating the boutique.com domain with a visual clothing search engine. This could  be something they've pulled from their like.com visual search acquisition earlier this year.

Our sources say that the new Google fashion initiative is called Boutiques.com and boasts not only online boutiques selling merchandise offered by various designers and retailers, but a large number of curated "boutiques" selling the looks worn by celebrities and other influencers.

There at least 19 participating American designers, from Prabal Gurung to Oscar de la Renta, with participating retailers including ShopbopNêt-à-PorterNordstrom,Selfridges and Bluefly.

The featured celebrities include Lady Gaga, Victoria Beckham, Emma Watson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anna Wintour, Rachel Zoe and even Michelle Obama.

These high-profilers, presumably, have no idea they are included in the mix – they are simply being used as style inspirations for Google's designer label boutiques,  curated by Google insiders, who pull together products with a similar look to those sported by the celebs. Not very different from the "Get her look" feature in any fashion magazine in other words ...  except that in this case, you will be able to buy the product on the spot, with Google pocketing a percentage of sales.

Did we mention bloggers?

A handful of high profile regulars have, we understand, been invited to curate their own Boutiques.com boutiques – in exchange for a one-off payment of (low) five figures.

Perhaps related, Google announced today that product search would be gaining some interesting new features for holiday shoppers ...

Local availability on Google Product Search: We've partnered with more than 70 retail brands — including national retailers like Best Buy and Williams-Sonoma, as well as software manufacturers like JDA, Epicor and Oracle — to connect shoppers searching online with local stores that have the items they're are looking for in-stock. For example, if you're looking online to get your son that new Wii video game he's been wanting, you can click on the "nearby stores" link to see where it's in stock nearby. (If you're a retailer who's interested in taking part, you can learn more on the Google Retail Blog.)

Local Availability in Google Product Search

Google Shopper 1.3: Our mobile shopping app helps shoppers on the go research items and find the best place to buy them either online or in a nearby store — and it already has more than 2.5 million downloads. This version includes new search filters like "price" and "brand" to help refine your search. And you'll still get features like Local Availability, voice search and rapid continuous barcode scanning (so you can point your phone at a product and get information from the web).

"Popular products" and "aisles": We've borrowed an idea from successful brick and mortar stores and in the coming weeks, we'll roll-out two features called "popular products" and "aisles" to help people learn about and discover new products. When you search for a category of products such as "camera lenses," our new popular products feature helps you get started by showing you the lenses other people are viewing online. "Aisles" helps you browse and discover products by organizing results into sub-categories that others have found helpful. For example, if you're looking for a new TV, you can choose between display types like LCD and plasma. If you're interested in camera lenses for that brand new SLR, you can shop by the aperture of the lens.

Aisles and Popular Products

Speaking of Google and fashion, have a look at the Giorgio Armani Samsung Galaxy S phone  below.  Can you tell it is almost Christmas?

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About This Author
Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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