It can be hard to get excited about shopping for fashion on the internet. There are a few reasons for this. For a start, you can’t try the items on yourself. No matter how good the image, no matter how three dimensional the rotation – if the model is not you, you have no real way of telling whether the dress or pair of jeans or whatever will suit you.
Also, some things cannot be returned. If you buy intimate clothing or swimwear and it turns up and you don’t like it, you’re stuck with it. Distance selling regulations apply to everything else, but with lingerie or swimming costumes you’re on your own.
There’s an element of soullessness to shopping for clothes online, too. Going clothes shipping used to be a social event. It was an experience that people would share – groups of friends going out together, offering opinions, egging each other on and coming home exhausted and laden down with new stuff. The process of buying online takes a lot of the spontaneity away: you have to know whether you are looking for a top or a dress, for instance, before you start – while in the “real world” you could just amble around and see what took your fancy.
The truth of the matter is this. If you know what you want, the internet is a great place to look for clothes or for anything else. If you don’t, it’s the worst. It really is that simple. There are no shop assistants to ask. There is no three dimensional place through which to amble, until your eye is caught by the perfect jacket or the ultimate t shirt. The web simply doesn’t work like that.
There is a way, though, in which the digital village and the high street do combine. And are combining more and more. The web shopper may not use the net to go on a spree – but he or she is increasingly likely to use it to find out whether he or she is paying the right price for his or her items when he or she has located them in a store.
Everyone has access to the web in their pockets nowadays – or at least a large proportion of the fashion-buying market share does. That means you can be right at the point of purchase and find a better price for your item on the web. It also means you can look up reviews from social media connections to see what other people’s experience of a shop or a specific item has been.
This works very well with shoes, in particular – items that are supposed to be hardwearing as well as great looking. One of the primary complaints about fashion shoes is more to do with their ability to hold up against a good night out than with how they look. By using the web to access review information it is possible to make a more informed decision when you are in the store.
The web can empower the fashion shopper in other ways too. After all, the internet (as we are frequently reminded in the latest round of Google adverts) is about ways to connect, create and express. The fashion shopper, then, may want to make something of a digital event, or to blog is or her finds as he or she goes. He or she may even want to turn them into personalised photo books.
Dee Williams is a fashion blogger. Click here for more information.