Stella McCartney has a summer exclusive in store for Net-a-porter.com.

This story first appeared in the February 25, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


McCartney has designed a special collection for the e-tailer, which is scheduled to bow on the site for worldwide distribution this May. The collection picks up on some of the designer’s key silhouettes and evolves them, with 17 apparel looks, two shoe and handbag styles and a cloud-print sundress for girls.

For Net-a-porter, the partnership further underscores its ongoing strategy to secure exclusive merchandise. In recent seasons, the site has been pioneering such strategic exclusives, from offering deliveries of two pieces from Halston’s relaunch collection on the day of the label’s runway show last year, to giving its shoppers first dibs on specific RM by Roland Mouret and Alexander McQueen lines.

Natalie Massenet, chairman and founder of Net-a-porter, said there is still a customer out there happy to shop and to spend, “but we have to be smart about what we put in front of her. Today, when a lot of products are overdistributed and easy to find, being able to both offer a designer like Stella McCartney with a collection that is unique and hard to find…offers the customer the simultaneous cachet of having something great and special.”

The site has been selling McCartney’s collection since 2005, and according to Massenet, it is one of Net-a-porter’s best-selling lines.

“We wanted to do something special for her customers and really celebrate what her designs are about,” Massenet said. “One of the things we really love about the Stella McCartney collections is that the pieces she designs are for a woman who is looking to build a wardrobe.”

Alison Loehnis, vice president of sales and marketing, added, “Our customers seem to almost have an insatiable appetite for things Stella, and there are some core pieces they always come back to. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to take it to the next level and do something unique?’”

McCartney’s collection for Net-a-porter includes a classic trenchcoat, tailored suits, skinny jeans and an organic cotton T-shirt. McCartney collaborated with artist Peter Blake on a limited edition print featured on seven of the pieces, including a hand-draped silk dress, a silk button-down shirt, platform espadrilles and a cotton tote.

“This collection is a Stella ‘best-of,’” said McCartney. “It’s got everything you need.”

For the designer, the exclusive partnership has a wider reach than perhaps a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer: Net-a-porter sells to 170 countries, with same-day delivery in London and Manhattan. The site has almost 2 million visitors each month, and 7,000 new customers every month. It has a dedicated shopper base of 200,000.

The apparel offerings will retail from $495 to $2,495. Shoes start at $335, while bags will be available from $185. The girl’s sundress will be priced at $445.

Massenet declined to disclose sales projections for the line, but said she expected it to be the site’s “most significant commercial endeavor to date.”