By  on September 2, 2008

Oscar de la Renta is back in business in cyberspace.

After pulling the plug on e-commerce at the end of last year, the designer has taken it back in-house and relaunched the operation. An array of products — daywear, eveningwear, shoes, handbags, fine jewelry, sunglasses, small leather goods, fragrance and a select number of home products — are among the offerings, as well as exclusive items handpicked by the designer.

De la Renta said Friday that he was primed to “enter the world of e-commerce.”

“As well as providing an excellent online retail experience to our existing clientele, I also hope to reach new customers around the world who desire the product but who perhaps do not have easy access to one of our existing boutiques or wholesale partners,” he said.

With eight freestanding stores in the U.S. and “a couple more coming internationally,” the company expects its newly spruced-up online boutique to quickly become a driving force for sales — so much so that the online store could be the company’s number-one store within the next three years, if not sooner, according to Alex Bolen, chief executive officer.

Aside from showing customers the breadth of the product range and accommodating those who don’t live near an Oscar de la Renta store, the online boutique aims to get more new customers acquainted with the label.

“This isn’t Gap,” Bolen said. “We don’t have several thousand stores across the country.”

What was sold online in the past was “sort of an afterthought,” he said. This time around, the company teamed up with online partner Createthegroup to redesign the Web site and reimagine e-commerce. Not wanting to do anything hastily, both parties spent a year finessing the online plan.

“We have a breadth of inexpensive to very expensive products,” Bolen said. “We wanted to present the world of Oscar online, which is not dissimilar to our brick-and-mortar stores.”

Prices and product information are presented when online shoppers click on an item. Zooming in on a photo allows garments to be so magnified that the image takes up a good part of a computer screen. Initially, the company is offering a limited selection of exclusive items, including small leather goods and jewelry, but plans to add more as it gets a better read on what customers respond to, Bolen said.

Shoppers have added incentive to make Web purchases, with free shipping offered to those who register online.

Bolstering interactivity with customers is an objective of the site. Video footage of de la Renta’s upcoming spring runway show will be posted online for all to see once it is edited.

“We will put it up as soon as we can — hopefully the same day,” Bolen said. “Without sounding too cute, there is no time like the present. The online world is developing very quickly. Our merchandise allows us to present a very compelling story. We plan to take advantage of the interactivity and communicate more closely with customers.”

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