Chictini, a shopping discovery site that integrates user-generated shopping content with an interactive marketplace, recently emerged from closed testing and is now open to the public. Through a series of proprietary algorithms that help to filter products that users want the rest of the site community to see more of, members of the site can submit an item to the site and then watch as the community anonymously votes on it through a simple system of "chic" (positive) or "weak" (negative). Favored products are placed on a hot list are then seen more throughout the site.
The site has some powerful opportunities for fashion PR agencies or designers looking to engage in social media and directly with potential customers. As Bianca Levine, who does press for the company explains, "For PR agencies, [Chictini] is a great way of helping to expose an emerging designer's line because sometimes it may be just particular one item that puts a designer on the map... We've seen that when the judgement is put in the power of the consumer, the product is more likely to get optimal exposure and spread across the community."
Right now, the community is a mix of designers, stylists, artists, students, marketers, and just general fashion fans. Anyone can submit products into the site, but a PR agency can use Chictini to generate buzz around a new collection.
In addition to the voting aspect of the site, Chictini also features an editorial staff that will be producing fashion content. The site recently hired Editor-In-Chief Genevieve Yraola, who has previously worked for several top fashion publications and has been featured as a fashion expert on all the top nationally-syndicated morning shows.
Currently, the site has soft-launched an editorial page dubbed "6 To Bleecker" (named after the subway route to NY's SoHo District) that provides fashion coverage. The editorial side will feature content from Chictini, shopping advice and outside content. Editors will produce content that ranges from coverage on new and established designers, what our community is buzzing about, and other lifestyle items that fit in with community interests. we feel would be of interest to our readers. Editors are more than happy to cover collections submitted for review (editorial contact information is listed at the end of this post.)
Bianca and I did touch on the aspect of transparency with regard to fashion PR agencies posting designer collections, and she has this to say:
In terms of transparency, our group personally feels it would be best for an agency to create a profile specific to the designers that are managed by [the agency]. If a viewer likes a particular item that that specific profile posted, (which in this case would be a specific designer), they may want to see more of the collection from that designer by clicking "other items this profile has posted". This would help to expose more of that designer's work and more importantly, build the brand.
In all honesty, it would not really make a difference if a PR agency was upfront about them managing the promotion, because in the end the greater prominence an item receives on our site is ALWAYS decided upon
by the community. While the PR agency helps to start the initial stages of the viral promotion, the community themselves are the ones that provide it with longevity.
However, I could see it also being of benefit to post several designer's items under the Fashion PR agencies brand, in order to increase overall exposure for all brands, and also showcase a variety of items. If users regularly vote for a certain profile, because their items are relevant, exciting and stylish, then there is more potential visibility overall to post a variety of clients. Regardless, as Bianca points out "No matter what, it is always in the favor of a PR to post their client's collections on Chictini because they are still providing further exposure (and viral at that!) for their client."
Chictini Editorial Contacts
Genevieve Yraola: genevieve[at]chictini.com
Meri Kate O' Connor: merikate[at]chictini.com
Laurie Blake: laurie[at]chictini.com
Erika Fazio: erika[at]chictini.com
general inquiries: 62B[at]chictini.com