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Moda Operandi Brings Trunk Show Concept to Web

Today, at 11 a.m., site goes live with the first sale of Alexander Wang’s fall collection — just four days after designer showed the line.

A look at Moda Operandi, which launches today.

NEW YORK — Today, at 11 a.m., Moda Operandi, the online upstart founded by Lauren Santo Domingo and Aslaug Magnúsdottir, goes live with the first sale of Alexander Wang’s fall collection — just four days after Wang showed the line.

This story first appeared in the February 16, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Hoping to break new fashion ground, Santo Domingo and Magnúsdottir created a site that takes the concept of the trunk show online with very little lag time between a designer’s runway show and the sale.

The opening page features the trunk show of the day, which guides shoppers to a gallery of every look from the designer. Rather than use runway imagery, the Moda Operandi production team visits the showroom of the designer the day after the show to shoot each look on a model, as well as a video of the model doing a 360 degree spin. Shoppers can order the look by putting down a 50 percent deposit and pay the remainder before the item is shipped.

The site also has an editorial feature that profiles designers and offers reviews of the collections and trend reports. The Alexander Wang launch features a video segment with runway clips, designer quotes and comments from model Karolina Kurkova and front-row guests like Alicia Keys and Erin Wasson. Chiara Clemente will produce several future videos on the site.

“We believe you can’t have e-commerce without editorial, and editorial without e-commerce,” Santo Domingo, who is the site’s creative director, said.

So far, designers from all four fashion capitals have signed on. Next up is Prabal Gurung, followed by Thakoon, Carolina Herrera, Vera Wang and Proenza Schouler. Across the pond, designers and labels like Erdem, Marios Schwab, Jonathan Saunders, Carven, Hussein Chalayan, Emanuel Ungaro, Giambattista Valli and Roland Mouret have already signed on.

All this begs the question of the return policy. Magnúsdottir said any order cancellations before delivery will result in the loss of the 50 percent deposit. However, there is a return policy after the garment has been delivered. “If they then decide they don’t want to keep it, the personal stylist will work with them on size and other issues before taking the return,” Magnúsdottir, who serves as chief executive officer, said. “Because we ship at the beginning of the season and they need to return the garment within three weeks, it will still allow us to offer it to other customers.”

Santo Domingo stressed there will be no discounts. Moda Operandi buys the merchandise it orders, and should they be left with a garment, Magnúsdottir indicated there could be a sample sale at a much later date.