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Review: Snap Fashion

Technology in fashion is an area that really fascinates me, bringing together two of my favourite things and smushing them together to create something that you didn’t know you needed. Bringing together two areas that are seen as very gender divided is quite a hot topic at the moment as well, with this article on BBC News highlighting a campaign I was previously unaware of called Lady Geek. (I read the BBC article on Friday, ordered the “Little Miss Geek“* book off Amazon straight away and it arrived on Saturday directly from Lady Geek with a handwritten note thanking me for my purchase. ) It was also Ada Lovelace Day yesterday, which I always seem to miss to post about women in technology.

All this in a roundabout way brings me to Snap Fashion. Snap Fashion was created by Jenny Griffiths, who studied computer science at the University of Bristol. She created the site (and the app) when struggling to find high street versions of higher end looks on a student budget – something we’ve all done (and still do…).

It’s kind of brilliant. You just take an image on your computer and upload to the website, or take a photo of the item with the app, tell it what you’re looking at (a dress, a mini skirt, some trainers) and Snap Fashion then searches through hundreds of retailers to find the closest match. The app allows you to save your searches for later, and can direct you to the website to buy the item.

The problem with most sites and apps that find items based on a description is that they are usually US based – it’s always so annoying to fall in love with a dress and find the retailer doesn’t ship to the UK! – but Snap Fashion has a huge list of UK based retailers. The site and the app aren’t just useful though, they’re well designed – the look is so clean but colourful, it’s pretty obvious what to do!

You can find the Snap Fashion* app here (iPhone only) or use the website, snapfashion.co.uk.

Bag Lady

If you made me choose any type of accessory to live with forever, giving up the rest, I’d probably say bags.

I know, what happened to my shoe obsession? I love shoes, but a bag will never cause you pain, or make you trip and look stupid, or make you look like you need the toilet. A bag will hold everything you need and will always have just what you’re looking for…well, as long as you packed it.

There were so many beautiful bags on arms at LFW this year, but I’ll limit myself to just two. One, I love the brand, and the other, I love the idea (and the design).

It would be remiss of me to talk about bags this week without mentioning Mulberrys most talked about design. The Del Rey was designed for Lana Del Rey, a singer who seems to polarise a lot of opinions. I didn’t actually realise who she was until a few weeks ago when I heard “Video Games” on Radio 1

I don’t hate the bag like some people do. I don’t really see the connection between the singer and this bag (but then I didn’t really see the connection between Alexa Chung and the Alexa until you saw her eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeverywhere with one. Does she still carry one?) and don’t really understand why Mulberry are attaching her name to the bag when all other bags are just random girls names (still waiting for a Hayley or even a Gina bag…) but its a reasonable shape, and I love the petrol blue in the top left (that one definitely would have been my mums choice just for the colour)

I’ll probably be having a look (and a stroke…wait…no, that sounds fine) at the bag when it appears in the outlet store or at my local concessions, but if I were to choose a Mulberry bag in this style, I’d rather go for the Neely or the Harriet.

From a well known brand to a designer who isn’t so high on the publics radar, I think I’ve fallen in love with this bag by Richard Nicoll. It was announced last year that he would be partnering with Vodafone for his 2012 collections, and this was part of the AW12 set.

From the outside, its a pretty but simple looking bag, but open up and inside you’ll find chargers for your phone – the bag itself can hold a charge to replenish your phone (or iPad I guess!). This is the sort of thing I love – and what I think should be included in a technology column written by a female: its technology being used in a non standard way but in a way that could really help so many people – perhaps its just for phones at the moment, but having a portable battery pack like this could be useful in many situations.

(Hey Vodafone, I’m a loyal customer coming up for renewal…if you can hook me up with the above bag, perhaps in silver or purple, then I’ll stay with you a bit longer ;))

Review: Fashion 2.0

There aren’t many books around that are targeted at fashion (and beauty) bloggers – in fact, I think it’s just this one. Fashion 2.0 was written by Yuli Ziv, a blogger in the US who has been able to grow her blog into a business. She founded Style Coalition in 2008 as a network to help bloggers monetize their blogs.

I grabbed this book from Amazon just before Christmas when it was offered for free on Kindle. I enjoyed the book so much that I knew I would want to be able to quickly refer to parts so bought it in paperback.

The main chapters in the book are planning, content, relationships and revenue. It might seem strange to have panning before content, but I find that when I plan out what I want to blog about, then the actual writing of the content is a lot easier. Even as a long time blogger, I still found sections of the planning section to be incredibly relevant – it is crazy to think that just because you’ve been doing this for a while, you don’t need any help.

The first part of chapter 1 is about commitment, and it seems like a scary sort of thing – this almost put me off because I don’t want to be a full time blogger, but reading into it, it was more about what sort of commitment you can give – we all know far too well that blogging takes more time than just dashing off a post here and there.

Writing a blog business plan is one of the suggestions in this chapter, and it might seem like a bit of an extreme thing to do, but sometimes, getting things written down is the best way of planning out what you want to do next.

Each chapter is separated by a Q and A section with some successful bloggers – people like Gala Darling and Jessica Quirk are asked about how they started, and how they built their audience. At the end of each Q&A, there are action points – quite a handy list really!

The relationships section is about not just the obvious of connecting with your readers, but fellow bloggers (“Make other bloggers your daily sources of inspiration, not your daily source of envy”) and PR’s. It then goes on to talk about attending industry events (like LFW!), building relationships with brands and then deciding who you want to work with in the future as a motivational tool.

The final chapter about revenue which is usually quite a contentious issue in the UK blogging community at least. It seems like whenever someone is making money off their blog, there are others trying to tear them down – and while I hate the argument “they hate because they’re jealous”, in this situation, it’s usually quite true. This chapter talks about when to and when not to ask for money – things that are relevant to everyone, not just bloggers.

This is a great book, one to read and dip into constantly. I’d recommend it not just for people starting a blog, but for those who are unsure of where they are going (I feel like I’m in this group!) or just want some extra guidance. You can get it from Amazon in paperback* or on your Kindle*.

As an aside, you’re probably thinking “Why buy the physical copy when you got the digital one for free?”. I’ve blogged previously about how I love digital copies of books for the ease of transport, so this might seem an odd choice. Firstly: having read more and more ebooks, I find that its a great form for books that you read in one go, much less so for books you want to pick bits out of. This is definitely a book for me where I read it cover to cover, but I can see that I will probably want to reference specific bits in it at one time. The other reason is that I am really unimpressed with the Kindle app, and I worry that I wont be able to read the books I’ve bought in the future. This story is from 2009, but shows that Amazon have quite a bit of power – perhaps the cloud isn’t the best place sometimes. I actually went back to the Kindle app (on iPad) a few weeks after starting the book, and couldn’t find my book. For some reason, the Kindle app decided to archive the half read book…why?!

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