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Boticca.com harnesses social media to keep it real

LONDON — Boticca.com, a London-based global jewelry and accessories boutique, has partnered with U.S. start-up Olapic to encourage its customers to be fashion models — modeling the boutique's merchandise — via the popular app Instagram.

The boutique will showcase users' Instagram photos and regular photography in its online gallery.

Boticca currently works extensively with fashion bloggers and has a strong social media presence with almost 35,000 Twitter followers, more than 50,000 Facebook fans, 50,000 Pinterest followers, 3,000 Tumblr followers and close to 2,000 Instagram followers. Boticca co-founders Avid Larizadeh and Kiyan Foroughi decided to launch the gallery feature, having noticed the influence of "street style" on a large portion of sales on the website.

"We were keen to harness the power of street style which we had seen with bloggers, who, as everyday people with great style, are a fantastic shopping inspiration to customers," said Larizadeh. "Understandably, customers are now wary of brand imagery due to the much-publicized issue of image manipulation and magazine editorial, with its huge budgets and tiny models, feels unrealistic and detached from reality. Shoppers are disillusioned by the imagery presented by the fashion industry and crying out for something real. This is what the Boticca gallery feature is about: real people wearing our products, transporting the aspirational dream of these beautiful pieces into reality, and showing how great they look in everyday life."

The gallery already features almost 200 photographs of pieces available to buy from Boticca.com, taken by customers and designers and posted on Instagram using the hashtag #Boticca. A link to the gallery appears on the Boticca.com homepage, alongside "The Edit," a selection of photographs curated by Boticca's visual merchandisers. The photographs in the gallery can then be added to product pages alongside the standard brand photography, to show shoppers the different ways that real people have worn and styled the products.

The social element of the feature adds to the existing sense of community which has flourished since the website launched in October 2010. Boticca.com's 340 internationally based designers are already able to connect directly with customers all over the world, and vice versa, through the marketplace. This new tool will allow designers and customers to take this a step further, to swap photographs and styling ideas via Instagram and the Boticca.com website.

Users will be encouraged to utilize this new feature through messaging on the site and after purchase, and as well as via a series of marketing initiatives. These will include a competition featuring the gallery user with the most 'likes' in an editorial spread in Boticca's online magazine and gifting him or her with money to spend on the site.