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Celebrity lifestyle sites: Good or GOOP?

Categories: Celebrities

Blake Lively.JPG

The only thing worse than a pretentious web site trying to sell a jewellery box for $1200 is a web site claiming to be unpretentious and trying to sell a similar gimmicky product, like a world map wall hanging for $2000.

Blake Lively launched her lifestyle web site Preserve this week, with said map, among other products, admittedly, at a variety of price points: "There's expensive stuff. Inexpensive stuff. And everything in between."

Here's what else Lively, who is married to Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, wrote in her editor's note:

"I'm no editor, no artisan, no expert. And certainly no arbiter of what you should buy, wear, or eat...The function of Preserve is part magazine, part e-commerce hub, part philanthropic endeavour and above all, a place to showcase the power of imagination, ingenuity, quality, and above all, people."

Basically, the site is a mishmash of clothes, food products and furniture by artisans across the U.S. Think Etsy.com but less organic, and with a famous face attached.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop.com - seen as the pioneer of this trend when it began in 2008 - has been openly ridiculed for offering products at wildly high prices most people can't afford (like a shapeless smock for $215 referred to as "the wardrobe staple you never knew you needed"). And providing recipes that are far from practical for a typical family (like White Pear Kimchi that "will be ready to eat in 4 or 5 days"). Not to mention her now infamous posting on "conscious uncoupling." 

But at least that White Pear Kimchi recipe or new divorce theory sounds pretentious, at least it was an attempt to provide a window into the lifestyle she leads.

It seems more and more, celebrities are trying to develop similar web sites to promote products, expand their brand, and create an illusion that they're just like everyone else. Jessica Alba's honest.com plugs her own line of organic products for mommies and babies.

Reese Witherspoon plans to launch a lifestyle company with a southern influence next year.

In fact, forget the A-listers! B and C-listers are jumping on board as well.

Elizabeth Banks, Pretty's Little Liars' star Shay Mitchell and reality stars Olivia Palermo and Lauren Conrad all have all launched similar lifestyle sites.

And while these Martha Stewart wannabes are clearly aware that there's a market around those who want to know what they eat, wear, and buy on a regular basis, that same market can also see through superficial attempts to make a buck.

While Goop.com is still popular to read, there are reports that the mini-empire has hit some major financial woes -- some claiming the site is $1.2 million in debt.

So, if Lively claims to be "no expert" in what she's selling, I suggest she brush up fast.

People might flock to the site out of curiosity, but keeping us interested takes much more than just slapping a candid celebrity picture on the home page and calling it a "creative space".

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