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For online clothing retailers, consumers are the new fashion models

May 16, 2013

Apparel retailers are grabbing photos that people post online and turning them into advertisements, and many consumers couldn’t be happier about it.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, online apparel companies troll social-media sites for pictures of people wearing their products, and then post the images on their own websites.

Retailers are finding that when they show their clothing on real people, customers engage and buy more often. Using amateur photos of people who aren’t models is an about-face for the fashion industry, which has traditionally dealt in aspiration.

“It shows how much they want to connect with us as consumers,” says a 21-year-old University of Southern California student. She reportedly was thrilled to discover that a photo of herself and friends that she had posted on Twitter and Instagram soon appeared on the website of, the retailer whose necklace she was wearing in the picture. She had tagged her photo #Dannijo in hopes of reaching other fans of the brand.

Some retailers, like, ask customers to upload photos directly to their site. “People trust complete strangers more than they trust brands,” says Jose de Cabo, co-founder of Olapic, a company whose software helps retailers search social media for photos.

Shoppers can tap a picture on Instagram and be taken to a Web page where the item is for sale. The practice of marketers using content from social-media sites has raised privacy concerns, but retailers say they are complying with the sites’ user policies. — Greg Beaubien


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