rag-bone-google-hangout-1024x550 (1)Want to get in on the latest fall trends directly from your favorite designers and then have the convenience of buying your top picks in the very same place? A new partnership from Google+ and the Council of Fashion Designers of America combines the luxury shopping experience with the ease and accessibility of social media.

I recently blogged about this novel way for consumers to shop, where four top designers have signed on to host live shoppable video hangouts using Google+ Hangouts on Air (HOA). As Belle Letz of IPG Mediabrands mentioned on Twitter, it’s like the Home Shopping Network for the digital age (but maybe a bit more lux, in my opinion).

According to a CFDA news release, “Designers or retailers can publicly broadcast a multi-person video chat about their products while customers simultaneously browse a curated selection of products available for purchase online, exclusively through the HOA. As the retail industry enters the holiday season, this app will help retailers engage with consumers directly around key items or trends they want to highlight.”

I tuned into the third of the series yesterday (the first two were hosted by Diane von Furstenberg and Rebecca Minkoff) to check out rag & bone’s hangout and get a sense of what it’s like to participate from a shopper’s perspective.

The Lineup

  • Leandra Medine (aka Man Repeller) hosted the hangout.
  • David Neville and Marcus Wainwright, the designers behind the brand, provided insights into what inspires them, how they got started, who they design for, and their favorite pieces for fall.
  • Styling tips, questions and advice were served up by W Magazine Fashion Market and Accessories Director Karla Martinez, stylist Chriselle Lim, fashion blogger Ella Catliff.
  • Olivia Kim, Director of Creative Projects at Nordstrom, provided a retailer’s perspective.
  • Three models walked out live on air to show each of the rag & bone looks.
  • Three shoppers were lucky enough to have been preselected to ask a question of the design duo behind rag & bone.

Here’s How It Went Down

During the hangout, hosted at the rag & bone showroom, the panel walked viewers through fall trends that featured a selection of pieces from the fall collection. As participants spoke, corresponding items were available for shoppers to browse and purchase along the right side of the screen. To pre-order the newest collection, shoppers were directed to the brand’s official ecommerce site, rag-bone.com. For shoppers that weren’t quite ready to pull the trigger (myself included), there was an option to save items to your Google Shopping Shortlist.

The hangout focused on recent trends and looks and also featured a Q&A session with the designers. They spoke about sources of inspiration as well as advice for aspiring designers (as in, “Move to New York.”)

I learned that rag & bone’s designers are heavily influenced by the English tailoring and hand-me-down Savile Row suits of their youth. They want to create pieces for a woman with “a strong sense of self” and a “very New York way of dressing” — high end brands mixed with vintage, Zara, H&M or Alexander Wang. The brand’s approach to fashion was described at various points in the hangout as “hard/soft,” “masculine/feminine” and “uptown/downtown.”

As a consumer, I felt like this new platform gave me a personalized experience even though I was in reality a bystander in what boiled down to a live video chat. I’ve been a devotee to rag & bone ever since my first purchase (a pair of the classic Newbury boots in black leather). I regularly scour their site for the newest items, keeping tabs on the sale section, and was one of those waiting in line in the freezing cold last winter to get access to a sample sale. Today’s hangout further solidified my connection with the brand.

I was interested in several items from the new collection and added them to my Google Shopping Shortlist, and I left with some solid styling tips for this fall. I also learned more about their products (Did you know their hats are made in America by the Bollman Hat Company?) and I’m excited to tell my friend who loves her Pilot bag that they’ve recently introduced a leather Pilot backpack to the collection. The whole experience simply felt like I got to hang with a couple of my favorite designers in an intimate setting. It was much more impactful than just browsing rag-bone.com.

While I didn’t purchase anything through the hangout, I’m not convinced that sales alone was the overall goal. The new platform opens up a new way for designers, retailers and influencers to communicate with customers and creates a fresh opportunity to pull them in as loyal brand devotees. I know I’ll be keeping my eye out for any of my other favorite designers in the future, and I’m keeping tabs as this platform develops.

You can tune into the final shoppable hangout in the series with Rachel Zoe on October 29, 2013 at 1:30 pm EST. Follow CFDA on Google+ for details, and let me know what you think! I’m at @adrianadunn on Twitter.

This post originally appeared on Happy Customer.