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Tuesday, June 15, 1999 Published at 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK


Fashion e-tailing Zooms

Zoom was launched at Topshop, now one of its online stores

By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall

The latest fashion on the Internet is now selling clothes, with a new kind of portal, Zoom, launched in the UK.

Zoom MD Eva Pascoe on the launch
Zoom will initally concentrate on the brands of its parent, The Arcadia Group, with online apparel from Topshop/Topman, Principles, Hawkshead, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Burtons Menswear and Racing Green.

But there will also be Zoom "rooms" for products such as mobile phones from Carphone Warehouse, CDs and videos from HMV and flowers from Interflora. Visitors will be tempted to hang around with news provided by Associated Newspapers, online dating and recruitment services and a free Internet connection offer.

Zoom points the way

"Zoom is about opening up the Internet to a wider audience who want the benefits but until now have seen it as technically too complex to be relevant to their everyday lives," says managing director Eva Pascoe, formerly a co-founder of the Cyberia Group which opened the UK's first Internet cafe.

"Zoom is not about technology; it's about saving you money, time and helping you to find the best deals and even securing online credit without wearing out your shoe leather."

There will be online credit, with the ability to check statements on the site and a loyalty programme where visitors registering can begin accumulating Zoom points, equivalent to at least a £5 discount on every £100 spent. A fashion-specific "shopping bot" can search the site for particular items.

Free ISP offer

Zoom is also offering itself as a subscription-free Internet Service Provider (ISP), hosted by Easynet, the UK's largest independent ISP. Those signing up will get e-mail addresses, personal Web space and a browser that, naturally, takes them to Zoom's home page. The telephone support line costs 25p a minute.

[ image: Adriana supports Zoom]
Adriana supports Zoom
CD-Roms with the free Internet access software are available in the 1,600 Arcadia Group stores from June 15. The launch party was in one of its biggest - Topshop at Oxford Circus in central London, with Wonderbra model Adriana Sklenarikova and TV personality Jamie Theakston hosting the opening.

Fashion talk

The site also promises daily updates on what's hot and what's not on the fashion scene, celebrity gossip and tips from style gurus.

Another designer site, Fashionow, was launched in the UK three weeks ago, offering the latest news on the scene and worldwide clothes connections.

At the end of this month, Carnaby Street based is due to debut, billed as the world's largest online clothes shop.

It will stock tens of thousands of designer-label items and plans to be in English, German, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, French and Spanish. Stock is photographed in 3D and a virtual shop assistant can talk about the clothes in several languages.

UK companies that have already made a significant success of selling online include Fat Face, a specialist in outdoor clothing, which launched a Web store last August and has seen sales boom.

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