July 30, 2010
Having long led the tech industry in aesthetics, Apple appears to see the beauty of brokering deals for high-margin high fashion.
Two Apple patent applications filed on Thursday indicate that the company is exploring technology to enhance the experience of shopping for clothing through social networking and mobile devices. The first patent application describes a Virtual Closet with a social component that aims to provide seasonal or weather-related outfit recommendations and to create fashion-related engagement. "The social networking Virtual Closet can allow friends to see each other's Virtual Closets, recommend outfits to one another, recommend fashion items to buy, recommend fashion items to get rid of, recommend outfits to wear at a particular event, share and borrow each other's fashion items, or can otherwise suitably provide a social networking environment through the Virtual Closet," the patent application says. A Virtual Closet is necessary, Apple suggests, because physical closets can be crowded to the point that the items within are obscured and because it may be difficult to keep track of clothing that has been lent to friends. The Virtual Closet may even be able to help people "identify which fashion items are dirty (e.g., in the laundry) and therefore may be unavailable for wearing." The second patent application covers the concept of what sounds like an iOS app to assist high fashion customers. The patent application describes "an integrated [app] available on an electronic device [that] can provide information for promotional and invitation-only events, allow a user to browse and search through fashion items, recommend fashion items to purchase based on outfits desired by the user, check for the availability of particular fashion items, and view or providing ratings or reviews for stores or fashion items." Apple justifies the need for such an app by noting that the resources necessary to educate buyers about the availability of high fashion items are often not widely accessible. The company's patent application notes that the absence of a central source of fashion information may demand too much time or effort from potential customers who are researching options, thereby limiting sales.
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