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It was inevitable that Dior, one of the last luxury giant holdouts on the e-commerce front, would break. And it’s happening now, with an interesting strategy. Dior isn’t taking the full, brand-wide plunge, but rather it’s dipping its toe into the online pool with a holiday pop-up shoe shop with Bergdorf Goodman.

“There is no e-commerce site in North America for Dior,” said Pamela Baxter, president and chief executive officer of perfumes and cosmetics Americas at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, president of Christian Dior Couture . “The whole purpose and goal of this was to really leverage our partnership with Bergdorf and push the client base that they have that we don’t have. It’s a really a win-win for everyone.”

The sale goes live on http://www.BG.com from Monday through Dec. 31 with a selection of 14 shoe styles from the 2016 cruise collection. A key item is the Dior Fusion sneaker, but there are Dior Verso and Dior Flore heels and flats. Prices range from $830 for flats, to $920 for pumps to up to $1,140 for the Fusion sneakers. To promote the pop-up, Dior has enlisted a slew of social media fashion influencers — including Instagram’s Eva Chen; Shiona Turini, who works with The Cut; Leandra Medine of The Manrepeller, and blogger Aimee Song of Song of Style — to spread the word to their many followers through Instagram and their other platforms with photographs of each influencer in her favorite shoe from the collection.

Bergdorf’s president Joshua Schulman was the protagonist on the collaborative project. He said he proposed the idea to Dior two years ago and it’s been in the works for a year. Bergdorf Goodman routinely does special pop-up installations with its top luxury brands; Alexander Wang and Chanel have done special in-store installations in recent years. The store has had particular success with shoe pop-ups, including the recent Christian Louboutin “nudes” collection. That’s why Dior decided to go specifically with shoes.

“The customer likes to shop online,” said Schulman. “There’s pent-up demand for some of these brands that until now have not been online.”

One of the few remaining luxury holdouts in e-commerce is Céline, also part of  LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Chanel was among that group until this past spring, when it first entered the online world with a small jewelry collection done in tandem with Net-A-Porter and dubbed Coco Crush. More recently in the U.S., Chanel added online sales of its sunglasses to its existing e-commerce business in beauty.

As for why Dior has opted out of e-commerce for so long, Baxter said: “The retail experience and relationship building between our expert sales associates and our clients is really important to us. To be quite frank, we don’t know how that relationship would build online. I have got people in the stores who know exactly who their client is. We have programs in stores for initiating and engaging new clients. We do that really well. When we find that experiential relationship connection and how to do that online, we’ll jump in with both feet. Right now, we’re a very high-end luxury brand, our price points are very high and that relationship experience is our top strategic priority.”

Baxter said Dior has no concrete plans for rolling out its own e-commerce. The company will use the Bergdorf partnership as research. Schulman anticipates great success, and could not be happier that Dior chose to work with the store on such a milestone for the brand. Acknowledging that each brand goes at its own strategic pace, Schulman said that e-commerce is a fact of luxury retail life, a happy fact.

“At a certain point the customer has voted that this is the way that she wants to shop,” he said. “The customer for these luxury brands leads a very busy active life and is used to getting the convenience of being able to shop both online and in store. The brands realize that one doesn’t negate the other — one plus one equals something additive from a customer experience point of view.”

He also noted that 75 percent of Bergdorf’s customers research online before shopping in store. The 14 styles from the Dior/Bergdorf online shop will be available concurrently at Bergdorf’s flagship on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

The store’s relationship with Dior goes back decades, but Schulman noted that the brand has become one of Bergdorf’s fastest growing businesses. Having the Dior online exclusive, even for a finite period of time, is a massive coup. “We launch brands online all the time but this one is a big one for us,” said Schulman.

 

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