Tag Archives: startup

In which I become a fashion tycoon

After the joy of seeing a great Penn & Teller performance dies down a little, I always think the same thing:

“Where does Teller get those shoes? Are they the sort of things that a freelance journalist could afford?”

I mean, he has some great shoes. Paired with his three-piece suit, they’re like the festive, berry-flavored dessert at the end of a fine meal. Perfect “I’m the cool uncle” attire; it says “I am creative, fun, and interesting, but I have a career and responsibilities.”

I’m not saying I’d wear them daily, but yeah! I’d love to have a pair of shoes like those in the inventory.

I often have that sort of reaction to clothes I see online. I don’t “shop” in actual stores. I see a news clip, or a social media post, and think “That’s a nice hat. I wonder where I could get it?” But you can’t search for “floppy hat, kind of like a cap, but also kind of like something a Renaissance courtier would wear, maybe, too” and expect to get a bingo right away.

It’s particularly frustrating because I know that everything in this world has been given a name by somebody. Someone who works in the fashion industry would take one look at this kind of shirt I’ve been trying (and failing) to find and say “Seriously? You can’t find a chambral-cut poplin shirt with a Newsome button-down collar and bias pleats at the dorsal midline? Did you even really look?

I went through this the other day, in fact. I’m casually looking around for a new “daily city carry” bag. My old one (the amazing Osprey Veer; I liked it so much I also bought the larger version) is starting to look shabby and I’d maybe like to get something classier. I know the basic style, but I can only try to do a broad search for “bags” and match what I see with what I’m thinking of. After lots of searching, I discovered that the terms “fly fishing bag” or “field bag” will uncover lots of likely candidates.

(I have fallen in love with the leather bags made by Gfeller Casemakers. They’re pricey, but I know that when I shuffle off this mortal coil my nieces and nephews – or even their children – will be fighting over who gets my bag. The ad revenue from one of my podcasts is delivered via PayPal…I might have to let those funds accumulate, and then go for it.)

All of this points to a surefire idea for a startup: something like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, but specializing in fashion.

I see something I like, anywhere online. Or maybe I even just take a photo of something I own that I’d like to buy more of, but can’t find. I submit an image link to the Fashion Turk. Someone who works in fashion sends back either a shopping link or at least a set of keywords that precisely describe the thing.

For the right items, I’d happily pay five bucks per (successful) result. I’ve already been using this service in its analog form: asking friends “Wow, where’d you get that jacket?” when I see ‘em wearing something I like.

Yes, it’s a lot like Lieutenant Columbo asking “‘Scuze me…but where’d you get those shoes? I’m sort of in the market, see, and those are just the style I’m looking for…”

But what’s wrong with following Columbo’s lead? Those are some nice shoes. Chukka boots, which is a fashion term I now know about.