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American Apparel's Virtual Clothes

United States Apparel's Virtual Clothes

The outfit has opened a digital store in Second Life's on the web world. Though things cost just $1, the business hopes to bolster actuality product sales

Business Few Days
Reena Jana
Summer 27, 2006

You won't require a VIP invitation to attend the upcoming grand starting celebration for latest United states Apparel store—you just need a virtual avatar. The Los Angeles-based maker of stylish tees happens to be organizing a late-July soiree at its most recent area: a computer-generated boutique within the parallel on the web universe of Second Life.

Numerous video gaming blogs and development the web sites generated buzz round the Summer 17 launch of American Apparel's outpost in 2nd Life, a flourishing video gaming world in which individuals generate pixellated alter egos and pay real money for digitally rendered goods.

United states Apparel may be the very first significant retailer to set up store in 2nd lifetime, and since the store's first the organization has actually sold "about 2, 000 products" for $1 or less, claims Raz Schionning, the business's manager of Web services. Customers can outfit their online avatars with electronic renderings of slim-cut T's and outfits modeled after real-life merchandise.


Next month, American Apparel will start hiring digital product sales clerks from among 2nd Life's citizens. And then he says the business will introduce 10 brand-new merchandise items in July, beyond the 20 styles which are presently provided. The organization is also planning to test-market its first line of jeans within its Second Life store this summer—two months before they hit physical stores in time for autumn.

Plus in an effort to push visitors to both the virtual and physical shops, anybody who buys garments in Second lifetime following the grand opening celebration will get a coupon for a 15per cent discount on merchandise bought in real-world.

But while buzz happens to be building, not all of it was complementing. Soon following the digital store opened, several Second Lifers staged a protest from the business's questionable using intimately suggestive images of females with its real-world ads. Nevertheless, attention is interest, and, as some observers say, American Apparel's move might signal fresh marketing and advertising strategies for stores and gaming organizations alike.


"The amount of money United states Apparel made to date on Second Life is typically not just as much as they would make in a day at a single shop, " claims Evan Wilson, a videogame analyst at Pacific Crest Securities. "although concept meshes existing Korean activity designs in which players can find accessories with their avatars in micro-transactions, with all the concept of the social Web—an online, virtual community. United states Apparel's shop indicates an innovative new kind of games only starting to be investigated when you look at the U.S."

Customizing avatars is a popular rehearse. Over 7 million monthly unique site visitors log onto Yahoo!'s (YHOO ) avatar website, in which people produce and personalize likenesses because of their immediate emails. "We desired to charge one thing for clothes, so that they could have value, " states United states Apparel's Schionning. "we are not trying to make a profit. But we know there is a lot becoming learned in this arena."

Whilst American Apparel store could be the first significant retail store in 2nd Life, it is not the initial on the web. Long ago in 1999, Active Worlds, a Newburyport (size.) maker of computer software for building 3D digital environments, established an internet mall called @mart. It featured stores by tiny businesses—arts and crafts suppliers, including—as well as big-brand stores like Banana Republic and J. Crew.


Visitors to your website could purchase some virtual items for avatar accessories, but may possibly also navigate through the online shops then engage in e-commerce to acquire real-world goods via connected the internet sites. @mart is still accessible via the Active Worlds Web site.

"we laughed whenever I heard about the American Apparel store in 2nd Life, but of course If only all of them best, " states Rick Noll, founder and leader of Active Worlds. Noll says their company turned its attentions from @mart and concentrated as an alternative on finding business clients since the digital mall "wasn't great for earning profits" with regards to individual transactions.

Nevertheless, Noll states that whenever real-estate developers, schools, and multiple various other organizations saw @mart, they indicated interest in hiring the organization to build internet based conditions for all of them in the place of generate traffic to the internet based shopping center. The digital mall converted into a marketing vehicle for Active Worlds' pc software and solutions.


Noll states he cannot disclose his present customer listing considering nondisclosure agreements, but it includes major movie studios and banking institutions. "Although we didn't make money right from @mart, it was truly great for PR, " states Noll.

It's too soon to tell if United states Apparel's foray into Second Life will enjoy significant incomes. The rapidly growing business—it plans on incorporating 70 additional shops to its current globally roster of 132 by the end of 2006—saw $250 million in sales in 2005. Therefore achieved $1 million in sales from its e-commerce Web site alone. In the event that store can have the ability to maintain the attention of their on the internet and physical clients, it simply might show well-known in both Second Life and real life...with sales figures being anything but virtual.

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