* by invitation only

It seems our desire for exclusive shopping knows few bounds. A new service launched in Europe at the start of 2007 called Claseo aims to bring exclusive fashion retailing for men and women together with a social network environment of like minded people.

You can only gain access to the site, and therefore the brand’s clothing, if you are invited by an existing member. It’s the ultimate in audience direction of a brand. As well as an ultimate in bragging rights and social one up man-ship.

As the public area of the site states:

Claseo offers uniquely designed fashion which is not available to the public. We want to connect outstanding and like-minded individuals around the world – both online and offline.

Claseo fashion items are strictly limited and equipped with a visible identification code that makes each item unique. The exclusive design makes Claseo bearers stand out in any crowd. In order to be able to purchase Claseo apparel, you need to be invited by a current member of Claseo. This means that Claseo members choose the people who are eligible to wear Claseo designs. Invitations are limited.

After you have ordered a product at our online store, you automatically become a member of our lifestyle-oriented online portal. Here, you can reconnect with your friends, get to know interesting people and find valuable information about lifestyle oriented topics. Furthermore, community members decide about the looks of every new collection and also hand in their own design suggestions.

This way the members of Claseo actively particpate in the development of the brand.

We think this is a neat Disruption in the category. Of course social exclusivity has been around for eons, but we find the combination of an on line and off-line element of the experience, along with the ability to let the audience direct the development of the brand, really interesting and smart. We have always been able to identify people in a crowd who have the potential to be PLU (people like us) by their overall attire. It’s easy to spot the people you think you’re most likely to hit it off with when at a social gathering, but this kind of ‘special hand shake’ is an interesting twist that converges these two worlds.

As with all things exclusive, someone eventually tries to take it a little more mainstream. So where does something like this go? Would we see this at Gap or Banana Republic in the US? Could we see Nordstrom or Selfridges launching an exclusive service in this way that helps their shoppers identify each other in a crowd? What about Top Shop in the UK would be interesting. Where else could we see this concept going? Who could you see doing this in your market?