Snapette creates a local fashion discovery engine

There is an abundance of online resources dedicated to helping women find fashion tips and inspiration, everything from blogs to services like Pinterest and Fancy. But getting location-based, Yelp-like (s yelp) information on fashion goods you can buy in your neighborhood isn’t so easy.
That’s the gap that Snapette is trying to fill. The New York company, a 500 Startups alum, launched last August with a sort of Pinterest for the real world model, letting users share pictures of local products, which fellow users can discover nearby. But, now, with its latest iPhone app (s aapl) launching Wednesday, the service is becoming more of a resource for local merchants and brands, who can use Snapette to alert users to products they might like.
With Snapette 2.0, brands will be able to send push notifications to nearby users on products that fit their tastes or they can alert users to special offers or unique discounts. Snapette will meter and filter the push notifications so users aren’t overwhelmed by messages, particularly ones that aren’t relevant to their tastes. This gives brands a way to walk consumers right in the door and it doesn’t rely on consumers opening up the app to browse the activity feed.
In addition to the upgrades to the mobile app, Snapette is also launching a full website that offers all of the features of the mobile app, except photo uploading. And the service is now expanding beyond shoes and bags to clothes, jewelry and accessories.
The addition of push notifications builds on a transformation that was already happening, as brands and retailers have increasingly been filling the Snapette feed with pictures of their own products. Now, 40 percent of the pictures are supplied by stores. Snapette co-founder Sarah Paiji said the plan all along was to closely partner with store owners. Now that they have a base of users and more than 100 retailers and boutiques on board, the company has upgraded the way they can utilize Snapette to reach consumers. Brands will pay a monthly subscription fee to be able to push out notifications to users.
But Paiji said Snapette isn’t just about delivering offers to consumers. She said, ideally, the service will offer a mix 0f user-generated images alongside branded offers and deals, all of it discoverable by location.
“There isn’t a go-to app that helps you find stores in the real world. There’s a lot of ways to help you find food or restaurants nearby. But to find (clothing) stores nearby the best thing you might look at is Yelp. But that doesn’t include products, it’s more text. But fashion is visual; you want to see what’s what,” Paiji said.

Co-founders Sarah Paiji and Jinhee Kim

Snapette currently works with stores in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, London and Tokyo. The international reach of the app allows users to also see what what styles are trending in other cities around the world. In addition to browsing by location, users can also search by store or brand and see current trends.
Paiji started Snapette along with fellow Harvard graduate Jinhee Kim. The two have taken $1.5 million in funding so far from Shoedazzle founder Brian Lee, 500 Startups, Forerunner Ventures and others.
I like Snapette and its location-based approach to fashion. While there’s a lot of action online, the bigger opportunity is still in local commerce, helping small businesses and boutiques bring in customers. Snapette isn’t alone though. Companies like Shoptiques help bring boutiques online but also help shoppers find local products to buy. Hipswap, mostly a hipper Craigslist, also invites local merchants to join its marketplace. We are still early in the era of location-based services and there’s still a lot more that can be done to help people leverage smartphones and location to discover the world around them.