What’s a good publicity stunt without a stable of pretty women? Apparently even Y Combinator startups fall prey to that age-old logic. DNAInfo reports that Shoptiques, a fashion marketplace for local boutiques, has planned an elaborate jaunt around Manhattan today to dole out free hugs in exchange for some brand recognition. And judging from their Facebook page, looks like they’ll also have a ton of hot pink swag in tow.
Starting at 11 a.m., five models will begin giving free hugs out in SoHo, then travel up through Washington Square Park, Union Square, Times Square and end at Columbus Circle. The whole schtick is so well-planned that you can even track the models’ location on a sweetly-drawn map on Shoptiques’ website.
Shoptiques launched earlier this year, backed by Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock, as a one-stop shop for local boutique fashion. The startup works to aggregate the inventory of small boutiques in cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles so that users can buy things from shops–both local to them and not–easily online.
If a customer chooses to purchase an item on the site, Shoptiques will immediately send the boutique an email with the order, and a printable FedEx label with the customer’s address. The startup handles all of the payment processing, and takes an undisclosed fee from each transaction.
It’s a neat concept, and browsing through the collection of bow flats and dainty necklaces, one that had us wishing we hadn’t already blown our entire paycheck on drinks and cabs.
Of course, we’re a little skeptical of using models to ratchet up brand awareness. A lingering embrace from a statuesque model is a stunt that typically appeals to straight dudes–and Shoptiques currently only sells clothing to women. If they’d hired male models to give some hugs, there might be a queue of fashion-forward ladies in SoHo waiting for their turn right about now.