Before starting her latest venture, Dealuxe, Joanna Track made a name for herself building the Canadian lifestyle site Sweetspot, which Rogers Media acquired last year.

Many national retailers have yet to jump on the e-commerce bandwagon, Ms. Track noted, creating an opportunity to build an online destination for contemporary, mid- to high-level designer clothing. Dealuxe carries 40 brands, with items priced between $40 and $700.

"The traditional retailers may not understand the Internet or the benefits as much," she explained. "Sometimes the big companies get complacent; this will disrupt that."

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The flash-fashion site niche is certainly attracting investor attention:

  • Montreal-based Beyond the Rack received a $12-million (U.S.) financing commitment last July from Highland Capital Partners LLC and BDC Venture Capital Inc.
  • U.S. retailer Nordstrom purchased HauteLook for $180-million in stock this past February.
  • Gilt Groupe, based in New York and the industry leader of the pack, is valued at nearly $500-million (U.S.). According to The New York Times, it is considering going public next year.