[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.