My Favourite Online Store...
Eagle-eyed readers will recognise how often I link products of all sorts to Net-a-Porter, which (in my humble opinion) is the world's greatest website for luxury fashion and beauty. Their ranges are vast in all meanings of the word - tons of designers, a wide range of price points, a huge range of styles and fashion levels plus beauty, sport and jewellery included in the mix too. In the final blog post of my Shopping Week I want to formally introduce you to Net-a-Porter and tell you why I love their site (and app....oh, and magazine) so very much.
A Little Bit of Background and Context...
Net-a-Porter was founded by (now Dame) Natalie Massanet in June 2000 after she was hunting for the latest pair of Chloe jeans and couldn't find them online anywhere. Whilst other areas of the online world were flourishing, luxury fashion was way behind. American-born Massanet wanted to bring the world of the glossy magazine to the web so that customers enjoyed the environment yet had the convenience of clicking on the latest product and having it delivered. Bar a couple of believing-backers, she was constantly faced with trepidation and concern from the majority of people she initially approached for investment. Luxury fashion online had previously either failed or not taken off to much of an extent and the industry was unsure whether it ever would. Fast-forward ten years and she's sold Net-a-Porter plus it's extra arms of Porter (menswear equivalent), The Outnet (discount fashion) and Porter Magazine, to luxury fashion group, Richemont for £350m having secured a chunk of the luxury market spend and a loyal legion of NAP'ers. So, what was so magical? Her vision has stayed true to this day - a magazine feel, a great environment, fantastic service and all available online.
Starting with support from major names as Jimmy Choo, Marc Jacobs and Anya Hindmarch was fantastic but today the site boasts an extensive brand portfolio from Alaia, Saint Laurent and Tom Ford to current cult favourite, Vetements. Clothing is one of seven categories and ranges now expand to also include Shoes, Bags, Accessories, Lingerie, Sport and Beauty. The final big leap for this fascinating company came in 2015 when Richemont and Massenet announced that the Net-a-Porter group would be merging with their Italian competitor, Yoox to a valuation of £950m.
5 reasons Why I Love Net-a-Porter
1. It's Joy to Browse
I love spending time on this site and, just like a great monthly magazine, there's plenty to keep me entertained. The beauty is that it's interactive so I find myself "creating" my own pages. When I sign on to www.net-a-porter.com the first thing I do is to scroll down to the bottom of the page and look at NAP Live. This is a cool widget that shows what people are buying at that very moment all over the world. As both a blogger and a teacher of fashion, it's fascinating and utterly compelling - it's the modern version of people watching in a department store. I then like to go to the 'What's New' section and browse through to see what's been added, back in stock or exclusive. Then I go back to the homepage and scroll down the 'What to Buy Now' editorial content. At the moment they have great pieces including 'Vacation Inspiration', 'What to Wear to Work Now' and 'All White...the coolest shoe update'. Finally I sit and read 'The Edit', their online magazine - which is a total joy!
All images of what I've talked about are below and linked for you to browse.
2. The Product range
Net-a-Porter is as much, if not more, about "the substance".........i.e the products. Their ranges are fantastic. If I have a product in mind then I'm very likely to find it on this site (they must manage their replenishment levels well as very rarely do I get annoyed by 'out of stocks'). Also, sometimes I hit a wall and need inspiration and I find the taste level is so right that again, I'm rarely left disappointed. This is the case if I'm shopping for myself, for someone else or researching for a post. I'm not let down. It is a luxury site so prices are not high street but I don't want them to be either - there's other places for that. What Net-a-Porter do so well is that if its right for their customer then it's on the site. At the moment you can buy a pair of Nike Slides for £20 or a pair of Alligator Boots from The Row for £5,320. Equally you can buy a t-shirt from Madewell for £30 or a tulle gown from Valentino for £13,440. I trust the buyers' taste level and edit.
3. Their Beauty Offer
As a beauty addict I'm also very excited by their beauty offer. The ranges are vast and really well edited - its the brands and products that we want and we seek out; Charlotte Tilbury, Hourglass, Marc Jacobs, Sunday Riley and Victoria Beckham Estee Lauder. In addition they currently have 265 exclusives including products from Jo Loves (Jo Malone's diffusion line), Rahua Hair Care, Edward Bees cosmetics, Wander Beauty and the most beautiful brush collection by makeup artist, Kevin Auction. I'm also a massive fan of their much coveted Beauty Travel Kit. This is a fine edit of beauty essentials for the frequent traveller all packaged up in a gorgeous clear, Net-a-Porter branded bag. Gorgeous.
4. The Editorial and Styling Advice
There's no denying that Net-a-Porter is also a real voice of fashion and style. Their site is beautiful, well mapped, easy to navigate and I love how great it is to be able to narrow your selections in the side bar. They obviously have a fabulous design and technical team. What I really love most through is the editorial commentary on each item and styling advice along with the photography. It's not necessarily always to my taste so I'm not always following it to the T but I do find it inspiring. For example, the Gucci Horsebit loafer is one of the most popular items of the moment. The way it's been styled here with the Tome Shirt and MiH Jeans isn't ground breaking but it feels fresh and falls away from the fashion pack favourite (I'm guilty of this too) of a breton and slim cropped jeans. I've put a few more examples below...
5. SERVICE AND FINISH
I can't write this without commenting on their service and finish which, is true luxury. First of all their packing is perfection and always immaculate. There's something surreally exciting about receiving a ribbon-tied black box, even when you're expecting it. What I love most however is their service. Before Net-a-Porter I really wan't much of an online shopper - even supermarket shopping. I preferred to touch product and get involved with it, get advice from the sales staff and felt that online returns would be a nightmare. I don't have any of this stress with Net-a-Porter and all the convenience. They have a live chat service so you can ask about your product, find out about shipping and check any confusing information. They have 24/7 customer services to support with advice and information but also exchanges, returns, delivery issue and even helping you place your orders. They have fashion consultants that will support you in finding the right item or outfit and work with you on a personal shopping basis. Delivery options are also great and if you live in London you can get a same day service if your order is placed by 10am. Returns are also easy -they encourage you to take your time to try things on and give you 28 days to return. If you do decide to return then they'll pick up your goods free of charge. I've tried to find fault (as a former retailer I feel it's my duty!) but I can't - it's great.