nly a decade ago the concept of buying a designer bag on the internet seemed ludicrous. No-one, it was assumed, would willingly spend thousands on a high-end item they hadn’t set eyes on. But fast forward to the new 20s and not only are luxury shoppers around the globe buying designer bags, ready-to-wear and fine jewellery online - but shopping from a two-dimensional website is starting to feel old-fashioned in an era of hyper-connectivity and rapid technological advancement.
Cue a host of new platforms that are on a mission to update the online shopping experience, luring luxury consumers along the way. The trick up their sleeves? They're up for getting social with their clients, bringing back the thrill of the chase and making service a priority. No more missed deliveries or rushing to the post office to make a return.
This is online shopping 2.0: a virtual playground where you can ‘Swipe Up’ on Instagram and have a WhatsApp chat with a personal shopper, bid on a pair of Amina Muaddi pumps just like you would buy shares in the stock market or even put your purchases entirely in someone else hands by letting experts curate designer surprises to be sent to your door. Read on to discover some of the most exciting new retail platforms currently being embraced by the international fashion community.
Threads is all about keeping shopping interactive and sociable – even once you make the transition to the digital realm. Its team of stylish personal shoppers have built a community of over half a million Instagram followers with whom they share daily finds, from Chanel dad sandals to an impossible-to-find mini Hermes Kelly and colourful Eera diamond earrings.
Something caught your eye? Simply ‘Swipe Up’ to be redirected to WhatsApp where you can chat to the team, shop the post you liked or ask your personal shopper to source any other item your heart desires. Payments are completed via the messaging app and there are no additional fees for the one-on-one service. Founder Sophie Hill’s ultimate mission was to bring intimacy back to shopping and, at a time when human interaction is scarce, her approach is working - so much so that Threads has expanded its offering to beauty, interiors and streetwear in the past year.
For serial entrepreneur Andreas Skorski, it’s all about reviving the thrill of the chase. That’s why he created IPO (Initial Product Offering), a new way of shopping The List, the fashion and accessories marketplace he founded in 2016.
Named after the process a company goes through when floating on the stock market, the way it works is simple: every Monday at 9:30am New York time an edit of the most on-demand fashion, accessories and fine jewellery pieces - think anything from Louis Vuitton Keepalls to Cartier Santos watches - become available to shop at dynamic price points. They are first offered at standard market prices, but the cost then fluctuates up and down depending on demand (a structure not dissimilar from Uber’s surge pricing), encouraging shoppers to think more like stock market traders and indulge in the game.
It never made sense that, whether you were buying a pan from Amazon or a £2,000 evening gown from a luxury e-tailer, the quality of the delivery service remained the same. Harper Concierge founder Liam Young has a solution to offer: a fleet of style assistants who travel around London to deliver your new wardrobe and bring the fitting room experience to your home.
Young designed a straightforward, no-fuss process that allows shoppers to pick a delivery time via SMS and have a Harper crew member hand deliver their purchases, wait outside their homes for them to try everything and return anything they don’t want to keep. If needed, the Harper team can step in for styling advice too. The service is available across London when shopping with labels such as Roksanda, Mary Katrantzou, Salvatore Ferragamo, Shrimps and Me + Em, with more to come in 2021.
Mystery boxes used to be reserved for sneakerheads on YouTube and teenagers playing Fortnite. Thanks to London-based start-up Heat, however, luxury shoppers who love a bargain and a good surprise just as much as the rest of us, can now get in on the thrill.
How does it work? Each treat-filled little black box from Heat costs between £200 and £500. You don’t get to select the items inside (although some, like the recent Yeezy box, give some unsubtle clues in the name) but each box comes with a value guarantee and a promise that everything has been sourced from the most on-demand brands in the market. When you open the box you might find anything from a pair of Jacquemus sandals or a Marine Serre signature moon print top to an Off-White bag. Could this be the remedy to choice fatigue?
Have you missed going in store, chatting to the shop assistant and letting them recommend a look you’d never have picked out yourself?
You can now tap back into the expertise of the shop floor community on The Floorr. This new online platform was created by Lupe Puerta, former global head of personal shopping at Net-a-Porter, who wanted to find a way to amplify the voices and perspectives of shop floor assistants – the industry’s “secret weapons” who know the product better than anyone else, as far as Puerta is concerned.
The Floorr operates by showing you stylised looks and complete outfits, created by retail staff from around the world, instead of individual products. So if you’re looking for the perfect work-from-home cashmere set, you can now avoid endless scrolling and instead, look for the picks and styling suggestions of these experts. It’s also a brilliant tool if you’re looking for new pieces to go with much-loved staples. Simple.
In 2020, the conversations around our unhealthy consumption habits, among other vices, reached a new crescendo. The solution undeniably lies in buying less, as well as opening our minds to question the concept of ownership itself.
Cue On Loan, the latest in a burgeoning collection of innovative fashion rental subscription services that offer you the opportunity to loan a small edit of new pieces each month, meaning you get your fashion fix while also supporting a more circular economy. The good news is that some of the most photogenic, buzzy brands, from Alexa Chung to Mother of Pearl and Scandi favourite Rodebjer, are already on board.