A new fashion site goes Hollywood: The Web's next wave?

Taking a cue from the playbook of print fashion magazines, an e-commerce software developer is preparing to launch a fashion and entertainment Web site.ModaCAD Inc.

Taking a cue from the playbook of print fashion magazines, an e-commerce software developer is preparing to launch a fashion and entertainment Web site.

ModaCAD Inc., which plans to publish news, features and tips on fashion, will add features that enable people who view its site to buy clothing and accessories after viewing them in 3-D on virtual models.

Under terms of an agreement expected to be announced with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and United Artists Pictures next week, the company will be able to let browsers on the site, called FashionTrip, pick out outfits worn by actors and model them on virtual mannequins tailored to their own sizes and shapes -- and then buy them, according to Maurizio Vecchione, chief operating officer of ModaCAD, in Los Angeles. "Fashion trends are also dictated by media icons, not just designers," Vecchione said in an interview with ZDNN.

The site is a natural outgrowth of the trend toward the use of actors and actresses as fashion models, he added.

MGM will gain exposure for its upcoming movie releases, clothing designers and cosmetic companies will benefit from celebrity endorsements, and the site's target audience -- affluent women from their late teens through their 20s -- will get a one-stop fashion and entertainment resource, he said.

"There are not a lot of sites that cater to this demographic," Vecchione added. Using interactive tools that make the shopping experience a personalized one, the site will deliver more useful advice than traditional fashion magazines, he said.

Once a user fills out an anonymous profile detailing her body type and certain fashion and cosmetics preferences, the site will offer suggested clothing, accessories, and makeup purchases -- without keeping personally identifiable data about the user, he said.

Feature films via the Web
The deal will allow the two movie companies to "introduce feature films directly into the homes and onto the desktop of the demographic these films are created for," said MGM Online Marketing Director Megan Crawford in a news release.

The FashionTrip site, at www.fashiontrip.com, now offers a limited selection of fashion features, news and advice, with the final version of the site to be launched in time for the holiday season, Vecchione said.

Now for sale on the site is a FashionTrip CD-ROM developed in cooperation with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq:INTC) and Sierra Online Inc., which gives users the tools to plug in to a virtual reality chat room that lets them chat via a telephony application in real time, he said.

A standard version of the CD-ROM is priced at $19.95, and the premium version is $39.

Bandwidth hog?
One analyst questioned whether the offerings on the site might be too bandwidth-hogging for many consumer Internet users, particularly those with dial-up access.

"The 3D thing is going to use huge bandwidth," said Erica Rugullies, an e-commerce analyst with Giga Information Group in Cambridge, Mass. "It's a neat concept, but the Internet isn't really there yet. How long do (consumers) want to wait for a Web page to download?"

But the site could be unique in its merging of editorial content, e-commerce capabilities, and promotions that bridge multiple industries, she said.

"Off the top of my head, I don't know of anyone else doing anything like this," she said.

MGM's and United Artists Pictures' involvement is further proof of the convergence of traditional entertainment companies and Internet companies, as these moviemakers follow in the footsteps of the Walt Disney Co., which is also becoming a big e-commerce name, Rugullies said.