If you’re reading the fashion blog Man Repeller, you’re likely to stumble upon the website’s new shop, simply called Repeller. Is it really a store? It’s hard to tell, at first. Click on the site, and it invites you to pick your own adventure: “I want to PLAY” or “I want to SHOP.” Click SHOP and you’ll find a dozen products, like earrings, scarves, and handbags, each with a price clearly labeled. But choose PLAY, and the shopping experience turns bizarre. It’s like stepping into the looking glass, if Lewis Carroll had written in the digital age.
In a world where most fashion-focused e-commerce sites favor minimalism, the Repeller site is full of interactive bells and whistles. As you scroll through the PLAY section, you see a window covered with a blind. As you move down, the blinds are drawn, revealing an arm covered in tomatoes. You’re invited to pick an adjective and two nouns, which results in a hilarious affirmation statement featuring your words. If you choose to turn the sound button on, this entire experience will occur to clinking, waves crashing, and other noises that may or may not be related to what you are seeing. What does it all mean? Who the hell knows. But you can’t help but continue looking around.
Every so often, you spot the odd product on the PLAY site, but they aren’t the focus. “The products are all shoppable,” says Dasha Faires, the creative director who created this site. “But no UX expert would have approved of this.”
Leandra Medine, who founded Man Repeller in 2010, tasked Faires with helping to launch the e-commerce site earlier this year. In turn, she brought on Lydia Turner, from the design firm Studio Scissor as the website’s web designer. Man Repeller has always been an edgy website, offering a tongue-in-cheek take on the fashion and lifestyle blog. Medine started the blog as a kind of joke, poking fun at how high-fashion clothes are often so man-repelling. But the site took off and nearly a decade later, it’s still offering this “not too serious” take on fashion media. (Recent stories include “Unconventional Life Hack: Remind Yourself You’re Going To Die” and “3 Non-Boring Ways to Wear Jeans This Summer.”) In other words, the site already attracted a particular kind of woman—one with a sense of humor and an unconventional sense of style.