How Is The Online Shopping Experience? (Part I)
Thanks to the global shipping option, the scope and potential of online shopping is looking bright. But how does virtual luxury retail compare to a real, physical retail experience? We put it to the test
What great leaps luxury fashion retail has made in Hong Kong: the fashion landscape began with the introduction of edited fashion appearing in the form of boutiques and department stores hosting global brands; then the real deal arrived as luxury brands began to open their own flagships; this was followed by Soho-styled boutiques introducing the lesser known designers; and today, the option of online shopping poses itself as a genius option to acquiring luxury fashion.
With that in mind, a nod is to be given to Lauren Santo Domingo’s members-only website www.modaoperandi.com, which takes the online experience one step further by pulling on-season runway looks straight from the fashion show and making it available to her customers right away.
Online shopping was made a reality thanks to the internet boom of the 21st century but really stood in all its glory when the barriers to trade, or in laymen terms, when “global shipping” was introduced.
In a recent lunch I had with Leonard president and designer Daniel Tribouillard and his wife, they contested the notion that the future of luxury shopping is online. I argued that if you’re familiar with the fit of the brand, then online shopping is a no-brainer. Another guest chimed that it is the overall shopping experience that counts. And others at our table argued that you’ll only do your shopping online up to a certain price point, and anything that can be labelled high fashion and cost an arm and a leg, would not be bought online – ever.
Taking that conversation into my brainstorming sessions, I decided to see what was out there in the cyber world and how the shopping experience compared real-life shopping. After all, seeing the astonishing lines outside of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci, and at a time where we have so little time to spare, we all have to wonder, is the virtual reality of online shopping comparable to a real life shopping experience?
One of my favourite online retailers www.shopbop.com introduced free international shipping about a year ago, in other words, some of my wardrobe favourites that include Alexander Wang, Acne, Theyskens’ Theory, Proenza Schouler, Stella McCartney to name just a fraction of the offerings, will be delivered to my doorstep in about four days post-online check out.
Like how a retailer makes an effort with layout of its department store, the shopping experience relies on easy navigation on the website. Can I see the look properly – does it have a zoom in or zoom out, 360-degree viewing option? Can I find what I want? Are the brands any good? These are considerations I’ve taken into account before naming Shop Bop a personal favourite. But above all else, it is the price that is its top lure: based in America, the prices are about 20-40% cheaper than that found in retail stores in Hong Kong. So you’re saving and shopping, what a bargain.
There is no doubt Joyce Boutique is one of the greatest fashion department stores in Hong Kong. In the words of its president Andrew Keith whom I spoke to last year, “the collection of Joyce is edited and curated for a select crowd”. So when we logged in to its e-store that launched early on this year, it was no surprise that the site featured brands such as Piers Atkinson, Miharayasuhiro, Toga, Tom Binns and Mastermind. The concept of Joyce’s e-boutique is not to replicate what’s existing in the store but to give online shoppers an exclusive offer from highly sought-after fashion brands that Joyce has carefully chosen to strike a collaboration with for a limited time. What do we make of it? We like the items featured but the website is still in its infancy, as is clear by the lack of complexity to the website. As it is now, it is an interesting concept and great option for us all, but there is definitely room to develop, and we highly look forward to it.
Read our exclusive interview with Karl Lagerfeld as we get into the mind of the versatile man.
This German website was in fact identified by a friend whose wife also enjoys the perks of shopping online, and it’s not hard to pinpoint why My Theresa would come on the top of her list. Though the website is relatively simple, made more obvious with its bigger-than-industry norm font size, what it does have is a very well-curated selection of clothes and accessories. While its selection is not large, the quality of its offerings gets top marks – they have a buyer with a good eye. We’re told the package delivers so quickly that only German efficiency can explain this. And if there are brands you can’t seem to track down in Hong Kong, it’s possible that you’ll find it on My Theresa. We have found Zuhair Murad and looks from Giambattista Valli, Étoile Isabel Marant and Acne here.