You know how fashion magazines have these photo spreads and then in small print on the edge there’s a list of key items from the shoot and what they are and how much they cost? Newly launched Lifestyle Mirror is like that but on the Internet. Stylistically, it quotes heavily from newspapers of old, while technologically it combines the newest new, mixing hyperlinked images with video, and integrating with social networks like Facebook and Twitter (sorry, Google+).
The flagship feature of Lifestyle Mirror is the fashion spread. Each image has little red dots peppered around the scene. Click on them and you get more information about a nearby item along with a link to the place you can buy it. This, says Emanuelle Della Valle, president and co-founder of the site, is "the ultimate service: a highly edited selection of products inspired by the photos, that users can buy instantly."
With this setup, Lifestyle Mirror joins sites like Nerd Boyfriend and The Wirecutter as a hand-edited recommendation engine, if on a somewhat larger scale. "We start by identifying the icon, different subjects from all walks of life, and we photograph them in their element," says Della Valle. "Then our Market Department selects the right brands." I can’t help but think of MTV Cribs, Robin Leach, and the Fight Club Ikea scene.
Of the many kinds of publications, fashion magazines might be the ones where the line between editorial and advertising is the thinnest. Photo spreads about the clothes you want to buy run next to beautifully photographed ads for the clothes you want to buy. Lifestyle Mirror does away with this distinction entirely, creating editorial content that links directly to merchant sites. It’s a wonder that Vogue didn’t get here first.
Compare Lifestyle Mirror’s top-down taste-maker approach to that of collaborative taste-sharing sites like Svpply and Pinterest. Fundamentally, these all do the same thing—they allow people to see what other people think is cool and buy those things. Looking ahead, they have similar monetization options around things like placement, referral fees, and selling data to merchandisers (interestingly, Pinterest might already be making money with affiliate links).
The difference is in who you think is best suited to do this curation work. Svpply and Pinterest are focused on the crowd—they rely on and encourage fragmentation. No two consumers’ Pinterest experiences will be the same, much as no two Twitter users’ streams are the same. These sites are places where people you find interesting share things you might like. Lifestyle Mirror, on the other hand, sees a future in the editorial voice and the glamor of the somewhat unattainable. "There is an enormous amount of content out there in the digital space," says Della Valle, "but little of it is beautifully produced and even less is well edited."
These approaches may not really be in conflict. Lifestyle Mirror launched with three social networks integrated. I already mentioned Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest was the third. Lifestyle Mirror wants to give you a glimpse of a glamorous world lived in by fabulous people, and they want you to share that with the hoi polloi.