How To Get Fashion From Films and TV

ShopYourTV screenshot
  • Article by Amy Bradney-George
  • March 20, 2015 at 8:15 AM

Have you ever been watching a show and seen someone with the most amazing dress, or coat or shoes that you would love to buy if only you could figure out where they came from? There’s an app and a whole lot of websites for that now.

For decades fashion and film have weaved together, with stars often wearing the latest designer styles both on and off the screen.

In her blog Fashion>Film, writer, critic and academic Pam Cook explains the connection between both of these visual, modern mediums.

“Film uses costume and the language of fashion in multiple ways,” Cook says, “as spectacle; to establish character; to evoke period; as a means of disguise; to subvert narrative; to conjure up meaning not conveyed by dialogue or narrative; to create mood; and on occasion to evade censorship. Fashion also plays a key role in marketing and promotion.”

Despite this link between fashion and film, in most cases the public has been limited to watching on as these characters and celebrities strut their stuff. That is, until the rise of startups, when anyone and everyone’s desires could be fulfilled by a new niche company.

In the last few years, the drive for fashion inspired by film and television shows has led to the rise of companies like Spylight and WornOnTV. These niche fashion services are establishing themselves as another link in the film and fashion chain, where you can search for your favourite shows, find exactly who wore what and where to buy it for yourself.

As Spylight says on its website, you can “shop your favorite (sic) characters’ wardrobes by show, season, character, and more. Find exact matches or shop similar looks, all in one place.”

While these fashion services are still relatively new, many have become popular online hubs for entertainment and fashion savvy shoppers who want to look like the characters they love so much.

The origins of film and TV fashion apps

Once upon a time people would spend hours and hours browsing retail stores or trawling the web for versions of the fashion seen on film and TV shows, often to no avail.

The same could be said for music – remember the days when you’d hear a snippet of a song and ask everyone you knew about it until you figured out what it was? Then along came apps like Shazam, which identifies songs playing nearby and directs you straight to the iTunes link.

The story of film and TV fashion shopping or listing services is similar – except that there is not just one startup shining about the others, but many. It seems a whole bunch of people got the idea to create websites and apps that figure out television show fashion, all around the same time.

One of the earliest of these services is ShopYourTV, which was founded back in 2011 by Australian blogger Chloe Bell. It has fashion listings for most major US TV channels, including ABC, CBS, the CW, Fox, NBC and HBO, as well as a handful of UK and “other” shows (Doctor Who, Sherlock, Offspring and Twelve Monkeys among them).

Popular site WornOnTV showed up not long after ShopYourTV, in 2012. According to a report on Fashionista in 2014, the site has become so popular that founder Linda Wilks was able to quit her day job around two years after its launch.

Fashionista says traffic to ShopYourTV more than doubled in a two-month period, with data for February 2014 showing 500,000 unique visitors and 4,000,000 page views.

“[Wilks] says her revenue comes from affiliate links and advertising,” Fashionista senior editor Dhani Mau reports.

Alongside these two sites are many others, including Spylight, Pradux, Filmgarb and ASAP54 – all of which have had varying degrees of exposure and publicity over the past few years. Even popular music app Shazam has cottoned on to the trend, with CEO Andrew Fisher telling media back in 2013 that they wanted to develop an app for TV fashion.

The potential influence of film and TV fashion startups

Although it’s still salad days for many of these websites, it’s also clear that there is huge potential for them through a variety of revenue streams.

Currently, most of the popular film and tv fashion clothes sites make their money off old-fashioned affiliates and ad-clicks. But this approach also means that the creators of the services spend hours finding information on the sought-after fashion in shows, as Fashionista’s Dhani Mau explains.

“While bloggers Bell and Wilks occasionally get information from brands and costume designers, they typically find credits by searching descriptive terms on Google and platforms like ShopStyle,” she says, before introducing the possibilities that this opens up for networks and production companies.

There is an obvious opportunity for networks and individual shows to release the clothing credits themselves, and build a healthy business in the process. Not only could they develop their own affiliate revenue schemes, but they could also negotiate more product placements to fashion brands who want their items on screen.”

  She cites early adopters of this market as Pretty Little Liars, which “live-pins” fashion from the show and has articles about different characters’ fashion choices on its official website. Meanwhile, The Mindy Project (Fox) website actually has a “shop the show” section.

Since the publication of Mau’s article Fox has added a whole range of shows to its online store. As well as The Mindy Project, it has fashion and accessories from and inspired by New Girl, Glee and Bones.

While much of what’s on the Shop Fox website is merchandise, there are a handful of pieces seen in these shows – and descriptions suggest this is a trend Fox wants to follow.

Of The Mindy Project selection, for example, Fox says you can “dress just like Dr. Lahiri in chic luxe styles with a hint of romance”.

“From brands like Wildfox Couture, find tops to bottoms with fun prints. Or from the brand Human, discover hilarious quotes for your very own Mindy Project shirt. With Mindy Project clothes, step right onto the set of your own romantic comedy.”

Other studios have taken to this new type of fashion service by partnering up with some of the startups out there. Spylight, for example, has established deals with Hollywood studios and also works with fashion experts that do whatever they can to hunt down clothing items, including going on set.

In an interview with, Spylight founder Casper Daugaard says major studios – including Fox – have actually entered into formal deals and partnerships with the service.

“I think the studios and networks recognise that we provide a new engagement and monetisation platform — at zero risk to them. I think everyone can tell we care more about the fashion of movies and television than anyone else,” Daugaard says.  

Pradux is another website and store that follows this path, using a combination of information from costume designers and stylists, as well as crowdsourcing, for its database of film and TV styles. It’s galleries detail the characters that wore each item, the label and the price, then lets you click through to buy each thing.

Unlike some of the other sites, which focus on helping people get fashion from the shows, Pradux also encourages everyday people to get involved and “get paid for your style”.

“Browse and share the products you see on TV and in the world, and explore the hottest trending items of the moment. When someone engages with a product you’ve shared, you’ll get a Reaction Point, used to unlock exclusive experiences with our partner brands and retailers,” it says.

“When someone purchases a product you’ve shared, we’ll split the commission of the sale with you, 50/50. Log in with Facebook and share your top products with friends – or even embed them directly into a blog post- and start getting rewarded for your style.”

Another way this trend could influence both the fashion and film and TV industry is through product placement. This marketing strategy is already a booming business for film and TV, with an estimated worth of more than $10 billion.

In an article published in the Journal of Marketing Research & Case Studies in 2013, academic researcher Tara Al-Kadi cites myriad examples of the big bucks spent on product placement. In James Bond film Die Another Day, for example, Al-Kadi says there are product placements for 20 consumer brands and also notes that Ford “spent $35 million to replace BMW as the official auto supplier for the James Bond brand.”

She explains that product placement had its origins in “the need to have realistic television and film settings and props”.

“Typically, producers assessed scripts and listed product placement possibilities which were then communicated to companies with the relevant brands,” she says.

Now, product placement is a major part of brand marketing and even film and television financing. While fashion is already a part of the product placement market, the popularity of these film and television fashion sites and stores suggests there is an even bigger opportunity for fashion houses and production companies to cash in on public interest in the styles seen on screen.

How they take advantage of that opportunity, however, remains to be seen. From partnering with television fashion websites like Spylight and Pradux, to collaborating with fashion labels and offering styles through their own stores, the possibilities are endless. But now that executives know there is genuine interest in shopping for fashion from film and television, things are bound to change.

Images: Screenshot of; screenshot of Spylight, sources: supplied.

Spylight screenshot
  • March 27, 2015 at 12:34 PM

    […] there’s scope beyond blatant video and in-browser advertisements. Product placement and “shop the show”-style services such as Spylight, for example, have had a bit of buzz around them […]