By Erica Bray
Fashion is constantly evolving. From the flapper dresses of the '20s to the poodle skirts of the '50s to the shoulder pad-and-sequined dresses of the '80s, it's an ever-changing kaleidoscope of style. The way in which the industry sells its latest styles has evolved, too. No longer is the shopping mall, once the destination du jour for budding fashionistas, the place to market the hottest trends. The rise of mobile and e-commerce has changed consumer habits dramatically, as people are more likely to purchase with a click or a swipe than by entering a physical store.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that e-commerce continues to grow, with web-based sales hitting $86 billion during the first quarter of 2016. That's a 15 percent lift compared to $75 billion during the same period in 2015.
What's more, a recent survey by Retail Week and Microsoft showed that 49 percent of people between the ages of 25 and 34 prefer shopping online. This is a generation expected to have more spending power than any generation by 2017 -- making it a demographic that fashion brands cannot ignore.
Because a strong digital presence has become so vital to a fashion brand’s survival, the URL upon which you build that brand has become that much more important. It’s your front window in which to dangle that must-have little black dress, digitally speaking. It’s the URL you tease in social media -- an increasingly important advertising platform for fashion brands -- so it had better be memorable and as fashionable as the styles you hope to sell.
For established brands looking to reinvent themselves and for new designers just coming online, there’s new opportunity to position yourself as digitally fashion-forward. New domain extensions such as ‘dot-boutique’ (.boutique), ‘dot-style’ (.style), ‘dot-jewelry’ (.jewelry) and ‘dot-clothing’ (.clothing) are reinventing fashion's digital community in an oh-so stylish way.
No longer do you need to be a ‘dot-com’ (.com) -- a domain extension that’s been around for some 30 years and might even be viewed as "unfashionable." These new options allow brands to craft a URL that is meaningful, memorable and discoverable in search.
We’ve rounded up 17 trendsetting startups that are using a ‘dot-clothing’ (.clothing) domain to make their respective fashion marks. These businesses are pioneering a trend that is poised to never go out of style.
This Long Island, N.Y.-based alternative clothing line is the creation Dexter Dible. It's gained a growing following among counterculture musicians and artists from coast to coast. "Because I was in the web design business, I was intrigued by some of the newer domain name options," Dible says of his URL choice. "I decided that since we aren't just another clothing company, we shouldn't be just another 'dot-com,' either."
Already getting accolades in Vogue and InStyle, this e-commerce fashion venture offers stylish, made-to-order woman's clothing delivered within 2.5 weeks -- all designed and produced out of Los Angeles. Fashionista called it "the cool girls' destination for customizable clothing." It's led by former Reformation fashion director Sarah Staudinger and co-creative director George Augusto.
Founder Tori Young couldn't find fun and edgy clothing for his sons, so he started designing them himself. It's quickly turned into a fashion business that last year raked in more than $1 million in sales, with placement in stores such as Neiman Marcus and Von Maur, as well as an e-commerce component on the website. “This domain name is much more descriptive about what we are doing than the one we were using before,” says Young, whose previous website name was www.warriorpoetclothier.com.
See Related:This Kids Clothing Company Rocks
Men's facial hair has experienced a renaissance in recent years, thanks in part to companies such as this. Beardlife proclaims itself a "movement for the bearded lifestyle" and sells a variety of t-shirts and grooming kits to promote beard and 'stache love.
The Garment District
This "alternative department store" in Cambridge, Mass., is a kaleidoscope of fun and funky fashions spanning the decades, both new and used. The website provides updates on the latest inventory and the ability to make an appointment to sell your unwanted fashions.
You can feel good about doing massive amounts of online shopping here. Founded by a mother-and-daughter team based in Milwaukee, Hearman is changing the world "one tee shirt at a time." Each item is attached to a charity -- ranging from The Hunger Project to the World Wildlife Fund to the Wounded Warrior Project -- and with each purchase, 10 percent of profits go to the designated charity.
This e-commerce shop is exactly what it sounds like. The glow-in-the-dark tuxedo dress and flashing t-shirts are pretty amazing -- and can be shipped worldwide.
You can't get much more Portlandia than this. tease (yes, that's a lowercase "t") is a Portland, Ore.-based apparel company specializing in one-of-a-kind, eco-friendly fashions handcrafted from recycled t-shirts. If you can't make it to the colorful Portland Saturday Market to purchase its shirts, skirts and arm warmers (yes, that's a thing), its website details other retail locations, pop-up shows and has an online retail option.
Aloft Boundary Layer Apparel
Aloft caters to a clientele with absolutely no fear of heights. According to the website, it was created because "there were no stylish clothes for paragliding pilots." It aspires to be the go-to fashionable brand for this community of sky warriors -- and ships worldwide starting in June 2016.
Wendy Feller brings more than 30 years of fashion industry experience to her latest line: FELLER. The Seattle-based brand produces stylish raincoats that are more "hip" than "sporty" and are constructed from waxed cotton in unique patterns. Says Feller of her URL choice: “I decided to go with ‘dot-clothing’ to be a trendsetter.”
Spot is a fun and flirty clothing shop in Door County, Wisc. Rather than simply sell its dresses and accessories only those who visit its boutique in Wisconsin, founders seized an e-commerce opportunity to sell to ... well, anyone in the world!
Fashion designer Lydia Stroud showcases her line of dresses, tops, skirts, trousers and jewelry on this memorable 'dot-clothing' website. On the site, she describes her style as "fresh, flirty and feminine" with each piece "made to order by our own fair hands."
I Heart Vintage
This vintage clothing boutique in Colorado was founded by Caole Lowry, a woman with a life-long passion -- or in her words "love, love, love" -- for all things vintage. Her website includes links to her Etsy and eBay e-commerce shops, which makes it a clever digital "store window" that promotes her physical location and online shopping opportunities.
Lucky13.clothing is the brainchild of Scott Lyddiard, an Australia-based entrepreneur with a passion for motor racing, BMX, skating and surfing. This adrenaline-fueled lifestyle is reflected in the clothing sold on his e-commerce website with the cheeky name. (Um, "lucky" + "13"?)
Fittest Clothing Inc.
If you're a gym rat, here's a startup fashion line that'll pump you up. Brent Deptuck began Fittest as a side project, inspired by his time as a male physique athlete in competition and wanting to produce clothing and gear that the fitness community would love. "Having a easy-to-understand Web URL is a great tool for e-commerce," says Deptuck. "Consumers understand that we are a clothing clothing brand. [It's] enhanced our traffic by allowing easy search-ability and branding ability." (In fact, if you type "fittest" and "clothing" into the Google browser, it comes up first in search results.)
These rival the Snuggie as quite possibly the best "comfort clothing" invention ever. Sweggings are a mashup of "sweater" and "leggings." In other words, sweaters for your legs. They come in a variety of colors and patterns. The "Retro Humping Reindeer" style is a must-see, if not a must-have.
And finally, a special nod to Internet e-commerce giant Amazon, who adopted the 'dot-clothing' domain as a redirect to the incredibly long domain for its Amazon Fashion page: www.amazon.com/b/ref=fs_xg_xgl_lp_surl?node=10445813011
Yep, that mouthful is the actual 'dot-com' URL.
By using a redirect, which is essentially forwarding traffic from one domain name to another, businesses can mask long-winded URLs such as these without "giving up" their already-established domain name.
Amazon has done this for other areas of its website, such as for Toys & Games (www.amazon.toys) and Shoes (www.amazon.shoes). Other major fashion brands that have taken this "redirect" approach to add clever and creative (and SEO-friendly) pizzazz to their digital branding include Jimmy Choo (www.choo.boutique) and jeweler Harry Winston (www.HarryWinston.jewelry).