And it would never occur to me, while driving on the interstate, to stop off in Chattanooga for truly great jewelry.” Sharing these miraculous discoveries (H. Audrey and Amanda Pinson Jewelry, respectively) and making their goods and services available to all is at the heart of Taigan.com, the shopping Web site she joined just last year.
Reed, a contributing editor at Newsweek and for 20 years Vogue‘s chief political writer, has helped assemble nearly 40 independent, “hands-on” retailers - purveyors of men’s and women’s clothing, kids’ stuff, food and drink, real jewels and faux-many of which had no online presence at all. Taigan (the name comes from a prized breed of hunting dog from Kyrgyzstan; “I’d never heard of it either,” says Reed, “but they hunt and gather, and so do we”) provides each retailer with cameras to shoot individual sale items for the site.
Members of Taigan.com get direct access to the pieces and to the level of customer service only a small-shop owner can provide. They can log on and click to Sid Mashburn in Atlanta and buy Filson luggage or a Mackintosh plaid raincoat. Or they can watch a video of Mashburn himself, explaining the innovative design of Peluso penny loafers ($450 and handmade in Naples, they have a dress show heel but a comfort sole). A segment from Aidan Gill for Men, a grooming boutique and barbershop in New Orleans, features proprietor Gill-in seersucker and a pink bow tie-extolling the virtues of a Josh Bach valet tray ($45).
“Every shopping Web site I know is two-dimensional” says Reed. “These videos bring it all to life. You can watch the one of Mimi in New Orleans, and she’s bossing you around on how to wear a Michael Kors dress the way she would if you went in the store yourself.”
The site expects participating stores to update weekly and plans to add ten new sources monthly. Also in the works is an international expansion: Italy is currently represented with Tuscan olive oils from Marco Zanetti. And for those fans who miss reading Reed regularly, the Web site’s magazine, fetch, lets her hold forth on books, fashion, and the secret to a Champagne cocktail. For Reed, it’s all a matter of dropping a sugar cube and a few dashes of Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters into the bottom of a flute (like the pretty pin ones by Maryse Boxer, $25, from Pied Nu, New Orleans, on Taigan.com).