By  on November 30, 2006

The power of a fashion brand can easily be seen on the runway, but can that same power be captured online? "Designers have been late to the party with their Web sites," noted Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of New York City-based Luxury Institute. "Because they are so high end, they could be leading the charge, in terms of design and capability." To find out the appeal of various fashion sites, the institute developed a "Luxury Website Effectiveness Index of Fashion Designers," or "LWEI: Fashion Designers." The index is made up of four equally weighted components: usefulness of content, ease of navigation, overall look and feel and trust with personal information. One interesting note: Online purchases were not a high priority in this study. In fact, the report found that currently, "only Coach and Polo Ralph Lauren have a sufficient level of e-commerce activity to yield a statistically meaningful comparison."POLO RALPH LAURENLuxury Website Effectiveness Index: 8.22Earlier this month, WWD reported that was helping to drive sales for the New York-based company: For the six months ended Sept. 30, sales grew by 35 percent, versus the same period a year ago. has more than two million visitors each month. Luxury Institute's report stated, "Respondents who found the site exceeded their expectations say the site ‘is just what I wanted,' and ‘it is detailed, thorough, and very visual.'" Visitors can find all facets of the Ralph Lauren lifestyle at, from the men's Purple Label and women's Collection brands to the men's Polo Ralph Lauren and women's Blue Label and Lauren labels. Additional attributes include a "Style Guide," which provides a "Q&A" section on seasonal wear and party wear, for example. The "Gift Guide" page offers suggestions on some of the hottest gifts for men, women and children this holiday.COACHLWEI: 8.13Those surveyed gave high marks to's ease of navigation and overall look and feel. The report also stated respondents "liked the interactivity" the site offered, such as enlarging items to check their quality.'s home page provides visitors with immediate access to available products and quick customer service information if needed. The "New Guide to Giving" section is devoted to holiday gift ideas. The page is broken down into potential recipients of the gifts, and each category — like the "For the Professional" section — provides ideas, such as the Coach Hamptons Pebbled Leather Business Tote, to its viewers. The site also allows visitors to request catalogues and sign up for e-mails in order to receive news about the latest styles, seasonal updates and store openings.LOUIS VUITTONLWEI: is decked out for the season. The site has a detailed holiday gift selection feature with an online catalogue of ideas. The feature contains detailed product information and images, but in order to shop for products, the site directs visitors to — the online arm of parent LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The "New Arrivals" section contains new bags, including the Pampelonne GM and the Stephen bag, part of the new Monogram Cuir Embosse collection created by Marc Jacobs. The site also has a "Craftsmanship" feature, where visitors can watch the making of Louis Vuitton products online. "The World of Louis Vuitton" section covers the latest collections, along with a timeline of the brand's history. The study stated that respondents found the site has quality products and has a "sexy" feel to it.GUCCILWEI: 7.98Visually, is stunning, with its Gucci girls revealing the latest products in the "Cruise" ad campaign against a gold backdrop. The report stated that respondents found the site "very luxurious and brand appropriate" and that it has "great value." A number of products are available for purchase, including the Sailor high-heel ankle-strap sandal with marina chain detail or the Pelham small shoulder bag with double-braided straps. The "Runway Fashions" feature enables visitors to view the latest collections. A unique addition to the site is the presentation of a limited-edition collection of 15 products that have been designed to honor UNICEF programs for children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. "Flora Joy" is a twist on the "Flora" print first designed by Gucci for Princess Grace of Monaco in 1966. The pattern can be found on several of the house's most popular handbags, such as the Positano and the Pelham.CALVIN KLEINLWEI: 7.91Under the Phillips-Van Heusen umbrella at ( automatically opens up to, the Calvin Klein lineup of brands can be viewed but not purchased. The site does direct interested shoppers to (ck Underwear) and, where they can purchase various Calvin Klein products. The site provides details on the Calvin Klein Collection, ck Calvin Klein, ck Underwear, Calvin Klein women's better sportswear, Calvin Klein Jeans, jewelry and watches and fragrances; it also includes a store locator. According to the report, respondents who visited the site were mostly interested in learning more about the products; in other words, shopping was not the top priority. Respondents felt the downside to the site was not being able to view products, though they felt there was sufficient brand information on the pages.BURBERRYLWEI: 7.74Burberry's latest ad campaign, featuring Kate Moss and shot entirely in black and white by Mario Testino, is the landing page for Luxury Institute noted in its report that respondents said the site is "elegant," "easy on the eyes" and easy to shop. They also said it was a great place to buy gifts. The gifts section breaks out ideas for men and women, as well as items for the home. And the men's, women's, bags and accessories sections all feature new arrivals, while another area is completely devoted to products on sale. A timeline of the brand, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, is laid out in the "History" feature, and the "Events" section lets Burberry fans know where the latest shows and store openings are being held around the world. ARMANILWEI: 7.61Living in the U.S. has its advantages if you're interested in Armani products. allows only U.S.-based visitors to shop online for the brand's Armani Exchange collection, fragrances, cosmetics and watches. Currently available is Armani Exchange's Super Skinny Indigo Jean, an ultra-skinny, ultra-sexy jean. Also for sale in the fragrance section is Armani Mania Women eau de parfum. Respondents in the study found the site "fun to shop" and "visually attractive." Collections are easily broken out for viewers, while "In the Spotlight" provides all the latest news on Armani, including events and store openings. The "Evolution" section describes the history of the brand, along with Giorgio Armani's fashion philosophy.PRADALWEI: 7.31One caveat to Prada's Web site: The home page currently only acts as a landing page for the brand, though it does open up to (seen left), which encompasses Prada fragrances. This section of the site was said to have "great visual appeal" — there are videos and commercials for Prada Parfums, along with details regarding its new fragrance, Hypnotic Amber. Skin care products, such as the hydrating body lotion and body cream, are both featured in this section of the site, too. And the shop locator feature provides a breakdown of the brand's stores around the world. The survey's respondents found difficulty with the navigation and wished the site contained more information on the brand. In fact, the main reason respondents visited the site was to learn more about Prada products.

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