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Fashionology Brings Tween Do-It-Yourself Clothing Design Online

Laurie Sullivan
March 2, 2009

A marketing campaign kicks off today aimed at spreading the word to tweens about an interactive fashion design experience aimed at girls ages 7-14 who want to design their own clothes.

Fashionology is the brainchild of cofounders Jamie Tisch, and Elizabeth Wiatt, a former literary agent and magazine editor. Last week's launch of the Web site extends the retail store's brand, which opened in Beverly Hills, Calif. in mid-2008.

"We spent a lot of time focusing on what the brand Fashionology means," Wiatt said, whose husband James Wiatt is CEO of the William Morris Agency. "Before launching the concept, we put the idea to the test by asking hundreds of kids to try the experience."

Wiatt said the inspiration came from trying to teach her tween kids how to sew. But after the task proved as difficult to a 7-year-old as it did for a 70-year-old, the idea of sewing morphed into decorating. It made the experience more similar to Color Me Mine, where kids decorate pottery pieces rather than bake them.

Reaching millions of tweens through a beloved brand, banner ads will begin running today for eight weeks on Radio Disney, Disney Channel and Disney Music. Jonas Brothers movie tickets were announced on the site's blog when it launched last week. Links to the band's fan sites drove about 600 kids to to create designs.

Promotions, ranging from gift cards to discounts, will soon become available on the store's Facebook and MySpace pages. Plans also are under consideration to offer virtual goods on numerous tween-focused virtual worlds such as Habbo, Stardoll and WeeWorld.

Search, social networks, blog and community-based marketing will become an important part of Fashionology's marketing strategy to reach moms and tweens, said Monica Nordhaus, Fashionology SVP and head of digital.

Making the site "friendly" to search engines Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, among others, Nordhaus had the majority of built in HTML. A search engine marketing (SEM) campaign that should launch this month is in the works, after testing specific keywords related to the retailer's business Web site in December, Nordhaus said.

"We found several affordable search terms that performed well on a limited budget," she said. "We had an average click-through rate of 0.9% in December 2008 on the business-related site."

Some of the best-performing keywords for the business site were "make clothes," fashion design," "design clothing," "design a bag," and "make your own clothes."

The search keyword terms relate to features on the retail Web site unveiled last week. There are five fashion "moods," such as pop, rock, Malibu, juku and peace, from which to choose. Girls pick themes and bling to decorate shorts, t-shirt or hoodie. At home, the computer becomes the design tool, but in the store, girls get creative through a computer kiosk with 42-inch touchscreen. They create the design and print the pattern, use heat presses to add graphics, and add embellishments at the "Make It!" table. For those who want to show off their designs, a photo kiosk takes a picture and beams it to mom in an email.

Fashionology charms cost about $2; heat transfers, $3; and tank tops start at $18. "We're very conscious in this economy to make items affordable," Wiatt said.






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