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Advice? Yes Shopping? No

September 05, 1996

Using a home computer to purchase back-to-school clothes is a hassle. (As Chris Gostyla, an editor at the technology and business magazine Red Herring, put it in a recent trade article: "Finding clothing companies that offer significant value to consumers online has been the search for a needle in the haystack.")

But the Internet is a source for ideas on what to buy. A trip to the dull but easy-to-navigate www.nystyle.com/, for example, leads to a link into other fashion sites, like www.charm.net/ ~ jakec/contents.html. There, under "Hot, Hot, Hot" for fall, we found satin hot pants and shimmering cropped sweaters. (A schoolgirl's staples!)

Click.

Elsewhere, at www.spiv.com/zooey, a link allows users to click into a variety of alternative Web sites with adolescent attitude and even a little (we use the term loosely) actual shopping. Zooey--apparently a young hipster herself--offers up plenty of free advice.

"So, Kelly calls me with her 'Oh my god' shriek," she begins. "I told her to grab a paper bag and breath [sic]. And she finally relaxes . . . then she lays it on me."

What Zooey lays on users is everything from her thoughts on summer hair to runway news. Her back-to-school "Hot List" includes decorative pressed powder compacts, "mecca" clothing (we're clueless here), Patrick Cox shoes and high, narrow boots.

The site opens with a pale green screen with Zooey's name in superhero lettering, the kind that appears on screen whenever the TV Batman lands a punch. The main menu offers several icon options, including Catwalk, Fashion Bulletin Boards, Trip Out, Cafe, MaleBox, Runway Diaries and Playthings.

Click on Runway Diaries and Zooey gives us her take on the alternative runway collections from London. (People, don't go there.)

Playthings features cartoon characters named Millie and Jasper, whom users can dress in computerized paper doll clothes if they want. (We didn't.)

And under MaleBox, we get a boy's-eye view of fashion via two guys named C. Delle Donne and Suomi, who discuss the virtues of a 10-year-old Velcro wallet. Their conclusion? Time to buy a new one.

Click.

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