So long, Polyvore, or: How To Wear Heartbreak & Disgust

[PRETEND LIKE THERE’S AN IMAGE HERE]

Oh yeah, I can’t actually create the titular outfit of this post, because the website that I used for over a decade to create these ensembles shut down with no warning, and either purged all of the accounts or sold them off to a site which either purged them or is mining them for user data.

The website I am referring to is the former Polyvore, a fashion moodboard/collage making space on which I have spent some portion of literally every day for the past 3,650 days.  Its mission was to “democratize style and provide its community with a new way to discover and shop fashion, beauty and home.” The platform allowed fashion lovers to “play” designer by creating collages, or virtual mood boards, of their favorite products from retailers like Net-a-Porter, Asos, Farfetch or even amazon or eBay, as well as independent designers or Etsy sellers. (Etsy wasn’t always easy to work with on polyvore, an issue which actually led to the creation of my tumblr in 2009, but that’s a different story. Just watch, tumblr will up and close with no warning next.)

I found out about Polyvore in 2008 or so, and it sparked an immediate obsession. I loved the idea of creating outfits for all sorts of make-believe occasions, the more outrageous and nonsensical, the better. My creations on Polyvore eventually gave rise to my How To Wear collections that I have been featuring both here at Unquiet Things and, more recently, over at Haute Macabre. I loved the functionality of the Polyvore platform, how you had a “closet” where you could store all of the clothing, accessories, accoutrements that you either “liked” from other users on Polyvore, or “clipped” from various places on the internet–I always found this latter feature extraordinarily helpful when searching for unusual things like mourning jewelry or taxidermy hats or what have you; these were items that, while you and I might not actually think they’re all that unusual, you certainly couldn’t find a lot of them already on Polyvore! So with the “clipper” function you didn’t have to rely on what was already on the site–you could add it into your virtual closet from almost any website that existed. My Polyvore closet, which I have been filling for over ten years now, contained thousands and thousands of items. And sometimes I went beyond just playing around with them for pretend wardrobe purposes–I actually purchased them!

Polyvore was a grand escape for me for a very long time, especially while I was living in New Jersey, lonely and terribly unhappy. I made some lovely friends through Polyvore; in browsing the creations that other users made, you’d often find that people had similar tastes to you, and you’d strike up conversation and realize that in addition to a love of Alexander McQueen, they were hilarious and brilliant, insightful and kind. Many of these users became friends. Many of them I still speak with today! Or, rather, I did, until Polyvore sold the site and locked all of the users out of their accounts. Polyvore was a safe space for me. A community of kindred spirits. And a creative outlet for someone like me, as well as many others, I am sure–someone with creative instincts but who didn’t quite know how to harness them or what to do with them. I am not an artist. But my creations on polyvore felt, a little to me, like art. And I derived profound satisfaction from that feeling. (Also–ladywimsey, kitten, alibee, sadiesue–if you ever read this, leave a comment, or drop me a line– I don’t have any of your contact information!)

Apparently there was some warning as to the situation. The Polyvore team posted about it sometime on Thursday, April 5th, 2018. I had not seen that, though I had used the site at some point that day. On early Friday morning I was still able to access my account, but early Friday afternoon it was utterly gone. When I typed polyvore into the address bar and it redirected to ssense I was at first confused, and then when the redirect persisted, a little panicky. I did a quick google search and was utterly shocked to read, in a slew of articles, that Polyvore had been acquired by ssense. And ssense is really just an online retailer of avant-garde (read: fug) fashion. They are just a shop. Not any sort of polyvore-esque functionality, not even the slightest bit. Which is ridiculous because as far as I know, most of the hundreds of thousands of polyvore users used Polyvore because they CAN’T AFFORD the sorts of things that sites like ssense sells. So they acquire the polyvore platform and all of its user’s information and then they immediately shut the whole thing down. Which is a dick move that makes absolutely no sense to me, but you know, it’s not even ssense I am angry with. It’s Polyvore.

Polyvores users loved that community. Many of them, just like me, had been using it for a very, very long time. I am not saying that the creators of Polyvore owed us anything, but I can’t help but to feel so very hurt and betrayed. If they wanted to sell their creation and make some money, that’s great, I can’t fault them for that, but…couldn’t they have sent out an email a week or so ahead of time? Give people time to back up their creations, find (or create!) alternate options to the platform? It was just so shocking and sudden, and I know to some folks this must seem like a piddly think to be upset by, but I am upset. As angry as I am, there’s now I polyvore-shaped hole in my heart that I am not quite sure that anything else can fill–there was honestly nothing else like it. So laugh if you will (but please don’t, I am feeling really sensitive) but I’m bereft. I’m going through a bit of a mourning period.

If you were a polyvore user, they have given you the option to download your data; I have done this already. I received my link in 24 hours, and it is ….not very helpful. Your data consists of a zip folder with several folders and spreadsheets. The spreadsheets link to urls which no longer exist. The image folder contains low-res, untitled images. It seems they are chronological, earliest creations to most recent. Nowhere are there links to the items used, so if you are someone like me, for example, who puts together How To Wear sets on a blog, you can’t link to the designer or the website where the items can be purchased. If you repost to instagram, you can’t tag the designer. Wow. Thanks, polyvore.

This sounds like a bunch of whining about some seriously superficial stuff, but I’m not going to apologize! But instead of continuing in this vein, I will instead share the last two sets I ever created on polyvore. You’re out of luck if you’re curious as to where any of this stuff came from, though. Sorry guys. This isn’t the end of my How To Wears, though! I’ll find a solution. Stay tuned.

How to Wear Seance Perfumesseance blog

How To Wear A Blog Post About Making Bread

ravenous blog

 

9 Comments on So long, Polyvore, or: How To Wear Heartbreak & Disgust

  1. Deirdre
    April 9, 2018 at 1:26 am (2 months ago)

    I’ve already posted some of my thoughts on bpal.org and instagram, but I’m just going to come on out and quit internet stalking you and give you a big virtual hug already. Several years ago, you posted on bpal.org about polypore and linked to a set you had made for, if I recall correctly, the one year anniversary of your mother’s death. I had also recently lost my mother, and your ability to express your feelings through an outfit was both moving and affirming in terms of my own relationship with clothing. That was when I began using your polypore account as inspiration when I couldn’t figure out what to wear on any given day. “Hey, I have a dress a bit like that…and a ring with a similar design…hm, what else did she put with that? Hey I have that scent!” I’m sure this will make you laugh, but my partner knows you as “my fashion guru.” I have actually purchased several things through your account, including a lovely pair of black handmade sandals from Etsy, several items from Rituel de Fille, and probably way too many perfume samples from Luckyscent. So thank you, for bringing so much beauty and pleasure into my life. I will continue to follow you, whatever outlet you find. <3

    Reply
    • S. Elizabeth
      April 9, 2018 at 8:27 am (2 months ago)

      Oh, thank you for your thoughts and kind words! I am friendly with another user from the BPAL forums and instagram whose moniker also starts with “heart”, and for a second I was confused. “But you’re not stalking me,” I thought! “We chat all the time!” What confused me even more is that she has told me that she mentioned me to her husband, haha. But I logged on to bpal.org just now (I lost my password and it’s been about 2 months since my last visit) and I saw your post in the forums and it struck me that you were someone quite different. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts. It really does mean the world to me when people reach out.

      I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. I don’t know what sort of relationship you had with her (though I hope it was fantastic!) Mine was complicated and she was a challenging woman, but even so. Life gets lonely and weird when you realize you can’t even call up your mom to ask about a memory, or to share a book recommendation, or venomously spit out a bit of gossip. Last year was the first Thanksgiving without my mom or my grandma (my grandmother died in early 2017, my mom in 2013) and it was so strange, making the stuffing by myself. Sigh.

      Please don’t be a stranger! I’m mlleghoul AT gmail dot com and always up for a chat! You can find me on facebook, too https://www.facebook.com/ghoulnextdoor
      And now I am going to find you on bpal and say hello!

      Reply
  2. lau
    April 9, 2018 at 2:18 am (2 months ago)

    It’s such utter, utter bullshit. I’d be willing to bet that SSENSE made the lack of warning part of the sale as a way to get *everyones* data and not have a bunch of users jump ship beforehand. so I blame them both. utter assholes!! I’m so sorry this happened!!

    Reply
  3. Brittany
    April 9, 2018 at 10:25 am (2 months ago)

    This is so very sad… I can’t tell you how much I always enjoyed your sets. So inspirational!! I hope you do find an alternative… I cannot believe how poorly Polyvore treated their users.

    Reply
  4. wintermoon
    April 9, 2018 at 6:53 pm (2 months ago)

    I have been in Polyvore for 6 years or so. I could not believe my eyes when i saw this last weekend that Polyvore was gone just to be replaced with a pointless, non-creative website for selling expensive clothes to rich people, with absolute lack of respect to us who made Polyvore grow. I have had a hard time during the last years and Polyvore was a sanctuary of freedom of creation. Many of my sets were of great meaning to me. From venting out my emotions, to create dark and mystic sets and collages where i could free my spirit and expression like nothing else allows to. I have met great people from the other side of the world. I am at the moment going through a very hard time, unemployed, broke and taking care of an elderly relative, trying hard to survive in a nasty suburb of Southern Europe… and Polyvore was that hidden magic place where i could free myself at least for a while, be myself, express myself, and as well to look at and enjoy other people’s creation. I could recover most of my sets and collages in simple images with no name, nothing…and the poetry and statements are gone (i had a lot of poetry, words and texts against prejudice of mental ilnesses, awareness about nature and so on) or i got some spreaded through some spreadsheets with no connection to the collage/set.And i lost all my drafts that were work in progress. I am hurt and angry, really!!! I loved how you could relate a clothes style to amood and an image. I loved how easy and enjoyable was to make collages, it was the perfect software to do so (I suck at photoshop and with a depressed mind is way harder). Recently i was doing some collages for bands and getting some extra small cash out of it, but now is gone). I just can’t believe they did this, they not only just closed a website, they closed a community of creative people and friends as well, just in a cold and heartless way. In these days that i am suffering a lot, i really needed to have this small sanctuary around that Polyvore was! What a profound disrespect for all of us, i dont even find words to say how mean and greedy it was…

    Reply
  5. Calluna Jean
    April 11, 2018 at 9:33 pm (2 months ago)

    Sense posted an apology about how they handled the Polyvore thing on Twitter yesterday, April 10. They said they do not have the ability to bring the Polyvore website or the functionality back. I have no idea what this BS is about, or why they did it in the first place. What is the point of mining user data from thousands of people who can’t afford what you’re selling?

    Reply
    • S. Elizabeth
      April 12, 2018 at 10:27 am (2 months ago)

      I saw that! Though I was heartbroken and shocked when I first learned of the sale and the shut down, I was harboring under no delusions as to the functionality being made available again. I was already familiar with ssense (because I had often perused the site for fashion to save to my polyvore closet!) The two sites are so very unalike–one is software to play with, and the other is a shop–so I couldn’t see how ssense would have any interest in taking over the platform or the functionality. They’re just an online shop! So, yeah, I wasn’t surprised at all. And though ssense handled it in a really crappy manner, it’s still Polyvore that I am deeply unhappy and disappointed with.

      Reply
  6. Larkin
    April 12, 2018 at 12:50 am (2 months ago)

    Wow, I’m so sorry for you all.
    It’s total shit that these huge corporations just conveniently don’t remember that there are real people sitting at the other end of an internet connection, using software, and that online communities mean something real. I’m sorry that you and other people lost your data, time, memories, and community.
    My brother went through that with an online gaming community. I could really see and feel the hurt and sadness in him when he talked about it. I get it.
    (De-lurking, I really appreciate your writing style and content. Fellow perfume lover and ponder-er of… things.)

    Reply

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