By  on May 3, 2016
Alessandro Michele Florence Welch

LONDON — In the ongoing race to cater to the luxury market’s needs and niches, Net-a-porter has tapped Gucci’s Alessandro Michele to create a one-off, 20-piece collection of ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories.This is the first exclusive capsule collection that Michele has done as creative director of Gucci, and is part of an ongoing strategy by Net to break out top performers, superbrands and emerging stars and give them special recognition on the site.The Gucci collection will bow May 12 on Net and the launch will be backed by both Net and Gucci on social media.Prices range from $270 for a printed iPhone 6 case to $5,300 for an appliquéd silk-blend organza gown. The collection will also have its own label.Michele has whipped up an exclusive rose print inspired by a 19th-century tapestry, which appears on pieces such as a three-quarter sleeve scarf blouse with pearl GG buttons, and a pleated skirt with nude lining, both done in double silk georgette.The roses also appear on a reversible cashmere and merino wool cardigan and on accessories, including two sizes of the Dionysus bag, flat mules, a high heel pump and the Ace sneaker.For Net, Michele has also re-imagined the house’s heron print in red and emblazoned it onto a Neoprene sweatshirt with Lurex web stripe details.Alison Loehnis, president of Net-a-porter and Mr Porter, told WWD that Gucci has always been a top-ten bestseller for the site, and Michele’s arrival has taken the brand’s popularity to a whole new level. As reported last month, Gucci is now one of Net’s top three best-selling brands.“We backed his first collection significantly. It was an absolute departure. Since then, the take-up from customers has been really incredible around all categories. We are selling loafers, but we are selling tons of rtw and fine bags, so this is really an across-category initiative,” she said.Loehnis said overall, special capsule collaborations give the site "an opportunity to address in a bespoke way what customers are looking for from a product standpoint. For the Gucci devotee this is a wonderful way to get further into the brand. But it is also a really terrific way to introduce a brand to a customer that hasn’t bought it before.”She added that while Gucci was at the creative heart of the project, “what we bring to the table is customer and commercial insight.”Loehnis said her buyers have bought levels of stock “to see us through a decent period, into the season, and we expect a really strong, rapid rate of sell-through.”In addition to the social media campaign, the Net team has also done a film and shoot with Tom Craig in Los Angeles.Marco Bizzarri, Gucci's president and chief executive officer, called the collaboration a “unique opportunity” for Net’s customers and said Gucci was happy to oblige.“We aim to break the rules and take risks, whenever we bring a collaboration of this type to life. This is very much the new spirit of Gucci, and we are glad that Net-a-porter shares our vision,” he told WWD, adding that Net’s clients “have already shown their enthusiasm for Alessandro Michele's new contemporary vision.”One-off brand collaborations and e-commerce exclusives are not a new strategy for Net. Most recently the e-tailer teamed with Tiffany & Co., and has been selling the collection via a rare wholesale distribution deal. Last year, Net ushered Chanel Coco Crush fine jewelry into the online world and also did a special project with Tom Ford for men and women.The Gucci and Net story won’t end with the capsule. Last month, Sarah Rutson, vice president of global buying, said during a trends presentation the site plans to invest “heavily” in Gucci’s eclectic, heavily embellished pieces for fall.In terms of future exclusives, Loehnis said there’s another major one in the pipeline for September and a host of new collaborations that will roll out during the rest of the year with brands including Isabel Marant, Nicholas Kirkwood, Sam Edelman and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi.

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