Net-a-Porter

Lately it is beginning to feel like for every shopper there is a new technology start-up — maybe because so many new technology start-ups are driven by shoppers trying to solve their own problems. Like, for example, how, when you see a really cute blue blouse by you are not sure who, sold you are not sure where, pinned to someone’s inspiration board, you can find it and buy it. Good luck with googling that one. Which, presumably, is why ASAP54, just raised $3 million from, among others, Carmen Busquets of Net-a-Porter investment fame.  Read more

It’s time to call a spade a spade. Or a tulip skirt a skirt. Or something. As New York fashion week kicks off fashion month today (joy! rapture!) I think it’s about time we face up to certain realities of the form that, for whatever reason, we have seemed unwilling to acknowledge in the past. Starting with Fact #1: designers never want to show in a shared venue. Read more

There’s something rotten in the state of e-tail – or so it seems. In the last week, both Kate Bostock, the old retail hand filched with great fanfare from M&S by ASOS.com, and Sarah Curran, the founder of My-Wardrobe.com, have left their respective e-ventures – both departures coming just after Aslaug Magnusdottir left her job as CEO of ModaOperandi.com, which she helped launch, last May. Three high-profile executives leaving three of the more successful (and established) fashion etailers in two months? This strike anyone else as weird?
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An interesting side show is taking place at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo during couture: Net-a-Porter is unveiling a new initiative involving five artists commissioned to make five one-off pieces of clothing, which you can think of as couture or art, depending, and which will be sold in September in New York – though whether they are to be worn or to be hung on a wall is unclear, as is the price. What is sure, however, is they will be very, very expensive. Take that, Moda Operandi and Farfetch and every other pretender to the throne! Net has just seen your bid for their spot in the e-verse and raised you by a factor of ten. Read more

Ever since its launch, Net-a-Porter has been the gold standard in e-tail: the high-end market leader, with a profit margin far ahead of the pack. And ever since then, entrepreneurs have been chasing its market share. Now Carmen Busquets, one of Net’s original investors (she is still a minority shareholder) thinks she’s found the answer: giftlab.com, a gifting site that provides a host of high-ish-end targeted alternatives to orchids and artisanal chocolate for events from weddings and baby showers to weekend visits. And she’s raised $5 million from US investors, including venture capital firm NEA, and a group of HNIs, to launch in America next September. Read more

There ain’t room for all of them in this here town. That, methinks, is what etailers are increasingly thinking. Hence, as small ventures stumble upon good ideas, the big players snatch em up, the better to dominate the space. Case in point: the announcement today that net-a-porter will start doing beauty.
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Just as e-tailers have come to realise that a virtual store in not enough, and are increasingly adding bricks and mortar storefronts (or, as folks like Warby Parker and Bonobos tend to call them, “showrooms”) to their offering, so, too, are e-sites. Last year Style.com launched style.com the magazine, a twice-yearly collection-focused oversize print book, and now Mark Sebba, CEO of net-a-porter, has announced they are planning a print magazine.So what is this? Nostalgia for ye olden days? I thought the brilliance of digital was that we were free of so many of the nagging costs and limits associated with the physical world and its products. I thought magazines were seen as dying media. What do they have that e-zines don’t? Read more

Good golly Miss Molly: there’s a whole new untapped consumer segment out there itching to spend money. Such is the basis, anyway, for a new web site launching next month directed specifically at these “recession-busting” individuals. Check ‘em out! Read more

Attention luxury shoppers: finally some news that would indicate the industry is not in quite as dire straits as trend-watchers keep predicting thanks to its foot-dragging, Luddite-like approach to on-line shopping. Read on! Read more

It never rains but it pours, and so on. In those terms, this month the fashion world is experiencing a deluge. After the departures of Stefano Pilati and Raf Simons from YSL and Jil Sander respectively, and the expected departure of Derek Lam from Tods at September and the end of his contract, come two more announcements: Lucy Yeomans is leaving as editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar UK and Amanda Brooks has left as fashion director of Barneys New York. This is, as they say, a moment of change.
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A mere year after launch Moda Operandi, the etailer that allows crazed fashionistas to order directly from the runway directly after a show, is entering Stage Three of their growth plan: after carving out a niche in the US, and stealing all sorts of glamorous executives from established companies (Marie Claire, Bergdorf Goodman, Net a Porter), they are embarking on world domination with an international site, a new COO (another poach from Net-a-Porter), a European warehouse, translation services, and deals with Chinese, Japanese and Russian Vogues. Mothers, lock up your daughters.

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For an industry with its own calendar, that runs on a time six months to a year or more ahead of the norm, fashion in general has proven idiotically obtuse about technology. After being famously late to the etail and social media party, and then engaging in a headlong rush to the virtual when it was clear where consumer tides were going, now they are once again dragging their feet when it comes to mobile applications, as a new study from digital think tank L2 shows.
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Moda Operandi, the new e-commerce site that allows consumers to order whatever they want from a designer’s collection straight from the runway, full price, for delivery months in the future, is upscaling yet again: they have just lured away Net-a-Porter’s US head of marketing and sales, Ashley Bryan, to become their chief marketing officer. That’s a doubling of senior staff in a week. And, as the Once-ler says in “The Lorax,” MO plans to go on “biggering and biggering and biggering.”

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Sir Isaac Newton said it first (actually, he said it third, if we are being specific): for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So it should come as no surprise that after the soaring popularity of internet sale sites such as Gilt, Rue La La, and Ideeli, to name a few of the much-talked-about, cut-price, get-it-now-or-lose-out-forever-etailers, comes a new raft of sites geared not toward making high-end goods accessible to the masses, but rather helping the very few become even more elite. Read more

Pay attention, you fashion/art/downtown people: The rein of black may be ending. The other day I was chatting with Penny Martin, editor of the Gentlewoman and she mentioned a conversation she had had with the designer Roksanda Ilincic: “She told me she can’t design half as much dark clothes as she used to or that she would like to, because the bulk of her business is now through Net-a-Porter and dark doesn’t photograph well for online consumption.”
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Last week’s Paris collections were rather over-shadowed by events off the catwalk, but one off-piste meeting has stuck in my mind, because I think it’s something to watch. I has been called up to look at a new web site called “Motilo,” the first social shopping site.  Read more

So eBay has gotten itself a creative director, in the form of ex-Lucky mag staffer Andrea Linett, to gloss-up its fashion offerings. At least we know they can recognize a trend when they see one.

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