What celebrities wear has become a high-stakes sport in our culture. So when it comes to television shows, it’s little surprise that fans will fawn over their favorite characters’ outfits as much—or more—than what actually happened in a particular episode. The problem is, unlike checkout-line mags or post-awards fashion shows, TV shows don't readily reveal what characters are wearing, and unlike e-commerce sites, they don't provide a direct path to purchase.
This singular problem (is it a problem, really? Let’s call it a challenge) is the focus of Pradux, an online platform that brings the concept of "as seen on TV" to fashion. The site has researched and made shoppable a selection of over 20,000 products from over 40 TV shows (ranging from sitcoms to dramas to reality programming), which are organized by styles, shows, seasons, episodes, and character. Shows include those that are known for the wardrobe choices of key characters, like Scandal, Girls, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and Revenge, as well as a long list of simply popular titles like Modern Family, The Vampire Diaries, and The Real Housewives franchise. So that if you’re just dying for that adorkable little frock that Jess wore in season 2 of New Girl, you’re quickly able to find it.
Pradux was founded by Alex Koblenz who found inspiration in a personal experience. "A few years ago, I attended a Jay-Z concert and wanted to know what he was wearing. I went home and tried googling it for hours, thinking that maybe someone on the Internet might have posted about this. No one did." That’s when he began tinkering with the notion that people actually want to know what actors are wearing while in character.
Koblenz says Pradux works with costume supervisors and stylists to produce this collection of fashion. "We have built a network of stylists in the entertainment business who either work on TV show sets or have been in the industry for some time," he says. "They’re keen on who wears what and have been helping us gather this information." Product information is collected before shows air, but fashions don’t appear online until after an episode runs. Not every outfit appears, as the focus is on the most stylish and coveted items. "We let our stylists determine what product should be showcased. The item should be discernible and unique, not generic," says Koblenz.
Pradux has also partnered with a number of retailers, including Intermix, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter, Nordstrom, and Shopbop, as well as brands such as Theory and Alice & Olivia. The benefit to retailers is that Pradux’s back-end system allows them to see who their influencers are. "We let brands see who is generating social influence, driving transactions and a ton of user data pertaining to demographics." There’s also a reward system that retail partners are able to use incentivize users to share their products. "The only time they pay for all of this is when we drive a sale for them," says Koblenz.
For users, being able to find and purchase items from television is only part of the Pradux experience. By sharing and tagging items on their social media feeds, users of the site can actually make money if a friend purchases an item based on their "share." Additionally, content is embeddable so fashions can be embedded into blogs, effectively making people’s blogs shoppable. If a transaction takes place on a user’s blog, it’s tracked and they’re compensated (users receive 50% of the commission Pradux receives) for it.
"Our site is built in a way where users are encouraged to spread the items they like, because the more people that see it, the better the opportunity they have to make money and earn rewards," Koblenz says.
While this socially driven, revenue-generating potential is a unique plus to the Pradux offering, Koblenz says the main ambition is to be a comprehensive database of on-screen fashion. "What we do best is identify what the item is, who designed it, and which character wore it. We take a curated approach to what we believe our audience cares about," he says. "I don’t think showing a plain white T-shirt is interesting. We have limited time while a user is on our site, so we want to show products that we believe they care about."