PleaseDressMe: A cool search engine for T-shirt geeks

Reposted from MINE, my day gig blog, cuz I'm proud of it: What happens you get one of the world's savviest social media entrepreneurs behind an awesome online business idea? A hella cool -- and useful -- service.

Gary Vaynerchuk, the ultra-enthusiastic entrepreneur best known for his free Wine Library TV video blog, is currently talking up PleaseDressMe, a new business in which he's a partner. Created by Gary's brother AJ, PleaseDressMe is a killer idea for T-shirt geeks like us MINERS: The site is a search engine for shirt designs hailing from some of the best-known (and just plain best) online T-shirt retailers. Companies like Threadless and BustedTees are already on board.

MINE recently spoke with Gary about PleaseDressMe, how it works, and what the service may provide in the months to come.

The philosophy fueling the site is simple, Gary said: to create an insanely elegant way to search for T-shirts sporting specific designs, colors or other attributes (found via keywords). Instead of visiting several individual T-shirt sites to quest for a particular shirt -- or particular topic, such as science-fiction or beer, etc. -- users simply visit PleaseDressMe, conduct a Google-like search, and view the results. These results are piped from the catalogs of companies PleaseDressMe is currently working with; collaborations with even more companies are in the works, Gary said.

Gary's younger brother AJ, who is a collector of clever T-shirts, recently conceived the idea, Gary explained. AJ is a Boston University senior who, according to the PleaseDressMe site, is "desperately awaiting the real world." If this is the first of many Big Ideas AJ's got, we can't blame him.

"My brother and I talk about business ideas 24/7," Gary told MINE. "It's fun, it's what we do. When he came to me and said, 'What about a T-shirt search engine?' it was the first idea I'd seen in years where there wasn't a hole to poke. It was airtight." Since AJ is in school and Gary is already a Tazmanian Devil of business movin' and shakin', it was critical that that PleaseDressMe's concept was solid, Gary said. "With (current circumstances), anything new we want to do needs to be sweet, effective and tight today. ... This totally made sense."

The service works in a few ways. Participating shirt retailers already have keyword "tags" assigned to their products (which are accessible via their respective sites' search), but the folks at PleaseDressMe are creating additional tags for those products, for even more refined -- or as Gary puts it, "crazy good" -- results. There are no advertisements at PleaseDressMe; the service generates revenue via affiliate revenue-sharing referral programs. And since there's no price markup for purchases hailing from PleaseDressMe search results, consumers won't pay extra to use the service.

For smaller shirt retailers who do not yet have affiliate programs, PleaseDressMe "is working out" a way for those companies to be accessible via the service's search, Gary said.

The Vaynerchuks are already hungry to improve and expand the service in the months ahead. According to Gary, there are plans to add promotions to the site -- with a possibility of insanely low-priced shirts ("three dollars, maybe," he said), promotions, prizes and even "parties." The goal: to provide an "outrageous value" and a better user experience for shoppers.

And while PleaseDressMe's concept started as a very "a scratch your own itch" operation -- after all, it was AJ's love for shirt shopping that helped spark the business -- "we're committed to the long term with this, and the long tail," Gary said. "This is not a flash in the pan kind of service, where there's a lot of publicity in the beginning and then it fades. We are very devoted to this."

Since Gary's Wine Library TV fans and allies in the blogosphere are devoted to him, the word's spreading fast. The site has been up for only four days and is already receiving more than 100,000 page views a day, Gary said. PleaseDressMe is personally vetting participating clothiers, so search results are a little skimpy at present ... but only the "really good" -- aka reputable -- T-shirt companies will be listed in search results. "There are a lot of dodgy T-shirt companies" out there, Gary said, but none of them will be accessible through the service.

And while Gary digs clever shirts -- "It's not the same love I have for the New York Jets," the superfan admits -- he's mostly in this for the experience, the consumers, and his co-founders AJ and Joe Stump (a lead architect at Digg.com).

"This is fun, a lot of fun, for me," he said.

Mined by: J.C. "Unapologetic T-Shirt Geek" Hutchins, facilitated by Adam Teece (Thanks, Adam!)