Trend Talk: eBay Trend Expert Karen Bard on the launch of LookBook and Bidding On The Next Big Concept

eBay trend expert Karen Bard

eBay Trend Expert Karen Bard

Welcome to the cult of “Me.”

It is hardly a new sentiment that we have become a culture obsessed with chatting about ourselves, sharing ourselves, displaying ourselves, rating ourselves. Nowhere has this become more of a guilty pleasure than with fashion. Scores of online sites are dedicated to celebrating both sartorial superstars and reveling in fashion schadenfreude of the “oh no he/she didn’t” variety. (And by the way, oh yes they sure did!)

But marrying fashion commentary, community and commerce in a profitable way is another thing entirely. And online marketplace marvel eBay is aiming to do just that with the launch of the Fashion LookBook. With LookBook, shoppers can show off and share their favorite fashion finds in original, street-style photographs they post to the site. They can vote on their favorite looks and eBay will show them items for sale on their site that are most similar to the styles and trends in the photo. That’s a potential 10 million active fashion users either curating your wardrobe or giving you the once over (depending on your view), and a swoon-worthy closet of 20 million live fashion listings to choose from.

To promote the launch of LookBook, San Jose, Calif.-based eBay has partnered with Lucky Magazine for events on both coasts. The first was in New York last week and the Los Angeles one debuts tomorrow at The Grove shopping center. Fashion mavens are invited to show up wearing their favorite styles and be professionally photographed by Lucky Street Style photographer Michael Waring for inclusion in the LookBook.

An eBay LookBook Style Panel — Whitney Port, Elise Loehnen, Annabel Tollman, Meredith Barnett, Editorial Director of The

Whitney Port at LookBook event

Whitney Port at the LookBook and Lucky Magazine event in New York (PHOTO CREDIT: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images North America)

Inside Source, and Karen Bard, eBay Trend Expert — will select one winner from among the top 25 submissions with the most votes. The grand prize winner receives a $5,000 shopping spree on eBay, style consultation with a Lucky editor and a professional photo shoot with Waring, in addition to being featured on eBay Fashion and The Inside Source, a digital style magazine presented by eBay. The only glaring thing missing from the package is the winner’s very own blog!

Fashion Trends Daily caught up with eBay Trend Expert Karen Bard on the eve of the L.A. event and got the skinny on the LookBook, her favorite fall trends and what she is really doing during company meetings.

Fashion Trends Daily: Is LookBook a huge fashion leap forward for eBay?
Karen Bard: eBay’s culture of community and connecting people – buyers and sellers around the globe – is intrinsic to our business, and what sets the Marketplace apart. The LookBook gives our shoppers a new, dynamic platform to not only express their personal style, but also browse and buy from the unparalleled selection offered by our sellers.

Fashion Trends Daily: Online sites have really tapped into the power of street fashion in recent years, with everyone from the Sartorialist and Garance Doré to other blogs and magazines. Is this a trend you see continuing in a big way or are people tiring of it?
KB: In my opinion street style will be forever popular. Think about how long society pages or Bill Cunningham’s column [In New York Times] has been in existence! We all love looking at what other people are wearing — especially when it is in real life. It gives you a window into how people function, stylishly, on a day-to-day basis.


A fashion "set" created on Polyvore

FTD: Of course, we have to mention Polyvore, as it was one of the first sites to tap into the idea of linking fashion community and commerce. [On Polyvore users create their own digital fashion pages or “sets” and clothing companies can upload their shoppable inventory for users to choose from.]

Was Polyvore’s success something that you think has made everyone sit up and take notice?
KB: Polyvore is great and so much fun to use. I was an early adopter on their site and it is a truly creative way to express your personal style in a hyper-visual way.

FTD: eBay and Polyvore are both Silicon Valley companies. Silicon Valley has a reputation for being the hub of all things geek, not chic. Will we start to see more Silicon Valley companies entering the fashion sphere?
KB: The Valley seems to be bursting with fashion-related companies. It’s fabulous!

FTD: Do you think that a new online fashion business model has officially emerged?
KB: With technology moving as fast as it does, and people being as connected as they are, the fashion business is moving at warp speed. For instance, mobile shopping on the eBay Fashion for iPhone app makes it possible to “buy it now” or “bid” from anywhere, anytime.

I actually bought a Joie dress when I was in a meeting at work (shhh, don’t tell!). And social networking has certainly changed the game in terms of the way we share and participate in our friends’ lives and shopping endeavors.

FTD: What is the next trend in online fashion?
KB: Mobile shopping. It’s actually something that eBay does really well. The eBay Fashion for iPhone app is incredible, and ultra convenient. Also, I think that social shopping is the next big trend, sharing your shopping finds with your Facebook and twitter friends/followers. Everyone can give you their opinion in real time.

FTD: Give us a brief snapshot of a typical day for an eBay Trend Expert…
KB: I spend my time interpreting the trends in the fashion market and on eBay. I work with our business team on how to best highlight our incredible inventory. It’s a combination of both merchandising and business strategy. I curate editorial pages on eBay Fashion and Fashion Voice and collaborate and work closely with eBay’s panel of celebrity stylists. I often host our off-line events like tomorrow’s LookBook event at The Grove!


Lucky Photographer Michael Waring at the LookBook NYC event (PHOTO CREDIT: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images North America)

FTD: What will you be looking for as a judge on the LookBook panel?
KB: Originality and confidence. I love seeing people go out on a limb with their fashion picks. And since eBay has every brand and every price point it is even more exciting to see what people come up with!

FTD: Share with us one trend you are definitely buying into this fall and one trend that will never make the list?
KB: I am way into the chunky sweater and fur vest; I am always on the hunt for a good, cozy option. I thought I could not wear thigh-high boots but I recently got a pair of Loeffler Randall plum suede ones on eBay and I am sold!

loeffler randall thigh-high marilyn boot

We couldn't find Bard's plum one for fall, but might we suggest Loeffler Randall's Marilyn boot in chocolate, instead?

FTD: Our Fashion Trends Daily readers, of course, want to know who you will be wearing this fall, and if you are an eBay shopper?
KB: Of course, I am an eBay shopper! The selection is unparalleled and I am by nature a bargain hunter. My new brushed silver Hogan bag is my latest eBay score. Also, I am a huge vintage shopper and would say that 40 percent of my closet is dedicated to ‘70s looks; I am obsessed with gold coin jewelry, printed blouses and groovy jackets from that era.

I have an impressive Louboutin collection and everyday labels I love include Band of Outsiders, Lauren Moffatt, Erdem, Mike & Chris, Markus Lupfer and The Row. If I go high glamour it’s Marchesa, Chloe and YSL all the way.

The LookBook event:

Wednesday, September 29th
The Grove (by Gilmore Lane at West 3rd Street )
Los Angeles, CA 90036
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Phone: 323.900.8080

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Author:Michelle Dalton Tyree

Fashion Trends Daily is the brainchild of Michelle Dalton Tyree. She is the former West Coast Retail Editor for Women’s Wear Daily, Fashion Editor for The Japan Times, and founder of former L.A. luxury boutique Iconology. Michelle is frequently quoted about fashion retail trends in major media outlets such as NPR, KPCC, The Inside Source and the New York Times. She has developed content for many luxury brands and retailers and has written for Allure, Worth Global Style Network, Footwear News and other media outlets.