Virtual showroom, and much more

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Virtual showroom, and much more

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The Lancome showroom on atZine. Provided by Incomm Brodeur

What exactly can’t you do in Korea with a computer these days?

In one of the world’s most-connected countries - where average Internet speeds trump those of other nations - the answer to that question is quite simple: not much.

Think about it, you can shop online for everything from apples to refrigerators, wire money, find a date for Friday night, send text messages, download movies, music and TV shows to your heart’s content.?.?. the list goes on.

Internet usage, it’s clear, has become an indispensable part of Koreans’ lives. This trait, coupled with a special love for luxury goods, has given birth to a virtual, three-dimensional, interactive showroom of luxury, high-end fashion goods said to be the first of its kind in the world.

Sixty-year-old fashion magazine Elle and local multimedia marketing firm Ein’s M&M are gearing up to launch Elle atZine, a virtual showroom featuring 121 global brands including uber-famous ones such as Gucci and Dior.

The showroom gives consumers an opportunity to glimpse, say, the latest trench coat from Burberry, the newest pendant from Bulgari or the latest bag from A.Testoni, providing yet another option aside from the brands’ individual Web sites and online shopping malls.

“Luxury brands are known to be extremely picky when choosing sites for their flagship stores. The fact that they gave a green light to atZine speaks a lot,” Choi Jong-sam, the CEO of Ein’s M&M, said.

At first, it might seem as if the new atZine is similar to each of the brands’ owns sites: You visit www.atzine.com, click on whichever brand’s shop you like and check out their latest collection.

But there are some distinct differences. Items on the site, for instance, are displayed just as they are in each of the brands’ showrooms. And the virtual, three-dimensional and interactive elements of the site make you feel as if you’re actually in those showrooms.

Another key difference is that you can’t actually purchase anything through the site.

“This concept is new worldwide, and some find it hard to understand. But we are not an online shopping mall, and selling these items isn’t our ultimate goal,” Kim Min-yeong, the publicist for atZine, said. “We hope atZine becomes a venue where trendsetters come, get information, network and create new content.”

Indeed, atZine offers an online magazine and blogs as well, hoping to become much more than a virtual showroom. Elle atZine launched a trial run earlier this month and is set to open later this week. The business model is currently patent-pending in 45 countries.


By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

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