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PARIS — Studiohomme.com is one of the growing number of e-commerce sites catering to the fashion-hungry male consumer.
This story first appeared in the February 26, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Paris-based site, which went live worldwide last week, sells current-season merchandise from the likes of Pierre Hardy, Comme des Garçons, Alexis Mabille and Lucien Pellat-Finet.
“Men are the ultimate luxury consumers online, and their numbers are rapidly increasing,” said Sébastien Roubaud, who cofounded the site with Arnaud Vanraet.
The 32-year-old entrepreneurs, who are themselves avid e-shoppers, together accumulated over a decade of sales and marketing experience at Dior Homme and Hermès before starting the project last May. While they aim to generate revenues of just 250,000 euros, or $315,000 at current exchange, next year — modest by luxury-market standards — they see greater long-range potential as they tap into a rising market.
“More men are shopping online than ever before,” said analyst Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester Research Inc. She called men “a natural fit” for e-commerce apparel because of their brand loyalty and because they frequently shop for “replenishment products,” which makes sizing less of an issue.
According to the Fédération des Entreprises de Vente à Distance (FEVAD, or the Federation for E-commerce Businesses), online sales in France rose 29 percent last year to 20 billion euros, or $29.43 billion at average exchange. Unlike female shoppers, who tend to hunt online for bargains, male shoppers — especially those between the ages of 15 and 25 — place rapidity and practicality before price, the report stated.
“We offer optimal service, so that there is absolutely no inconvenience when it comes to making purchases,” Vanraet said.
Although the site has a worldwide reach, only countries inside Europe can order directly from it. Shoppers outside the European Union must request products by e-mail.
Studiohomme.com also plans to present limited edition products and exclusive offers. Its aim is “to provide greater access to luxury brands and focus on high levels of service, propose collections in exceptional condition, punctual deliveries, the possibility to retract orders without hassle and exchange free of charge,” Roubaud said.
Available in English and French, the site has an editorial page for fashion-minded consumers who want to consider various styling options or watch exclusive video interviews with designers such as Pierre Hardy. “The editorial content helps give the product substance,” Vanraet said. “We wanted to build a site that was masculine and that had an exclusive appeal that corresponds to the luxury brands [we] are selling.”
Although most European e-commerce fashion ventures cater to women, men’s-only sites have gained ground in the last year. Thecorner.com, operated by Yoox Group, parent company of the online fashion retailer Yoox.com, went live in Europe and the U.S. last March, selling current-season apparel by brands such as Givenchy, Viktor & Rolf, Maison Martin Margiela and Isaia. At the time of that launch, Federico Marchetti, the company’s chief executive and founder, noted that men’s online shopping patterns over the previous eight years showed that “they are much quicker to buy and have a higher sell-through than women.”
Even classic men’s wear brands are adding online shop windows. Arnys, a Paris-based men’s tailored clothing label founded in 1933, launched an e-commerce site in December.
Meanwhile, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman have enhanced their online men’s wear offerings, according to Shenan Reed, managing director of Morpheus Media, a New York-based online marketing firm whose clients include LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Burberry, as well as those luxury department stores.
As Reed sees it, male luxury shoppers could be a godsend for online retailers, since men tend to buy more expensive items and make swift, firm decisions. “Men have a ‘hunt it down and kill it’ approach to shopping,” Reed noted. “They buy with a specific need in mind. They are prepared to pay the price and they return less.”
Reed warned, however, that sites appealing to male shoppers need to keep it simple and avoid programs like Flash Player. “Men are not looking to live the brand experience [online],” she said. “They just want to buy.”