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Oscar de la Renta and The Outnet: Take Two

The designer's second collection will go on sale on Dec. 17 with Miroslava Duma appearing as online ambassador of the line.

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Oscar de la Renta is gearing up for a second act with The Outnet.

This story first appeared in the December 9, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The luxury brand’s first 24-piece offering, designed specifically for and in partnership with The Outnet — one of three sites under the Compagnie Financière Richemont SA-owned Net-a-porter group — sold out of half of the collection the day it launched on Feb. 26. The second, 19-piece collection will go on sale at theoutnet.com on Dec. 17 with Miroslava Duma appearing as online ambassador of the line. Duma, a global fashion fixture, is founder of Russian fashion news Web site Buro247 and digital media director at Russian department store Tsum.

“A lot of people try to reach customers that they don’t typically reach,” said Alex Bolen, chief executive officer of Oscar de la Renta, in an interview Friday.

“People collaborate with H&M — [and] we have tried to find a new way to do that. That was what the initial experiment was about. It was a success from many perspectives.”

Prices in the upcoming offering range from $325 for a sleeveless lace tank to $1,095 for a floor-length, scoopneck dress. The core of the collection is a series of dresses priced from $895 to $995 — including one with a jewel neck and silk jacquard skirt, a sleeveless, floral, full-skirted silhouette and a long-sleeve navy A-line dress with vibrant red flowers.

“There is a thread from the first collection,” said Shira Suveyke, vice president of global buying at The Outnet, noting the upcoming line uses new fabrics to replicate the two best-selling styles from the first range — a long-sleeve navy dress with a multicolored floral print and a tweed boucle dress. “Of course we wanted to make sure that we moved [the collection] forward, but we took our customer feedback into consideration.”

The designer’s offerings on The Outnet are made in the same factory as de la Renta’s main collection, but are less expensive because they make use of fabrics that are on hand and patterns that already exist.

The collection will be promoted with a behind-the-scenes video, a video campaign, a takeover of The Outnet homepage, e-mail promotions, affiliate banner support and social media outreach. On Dec. 13, Duma and Oscar de la Renta’s social media personality OscarPRGirl, senior vice president of global communications Erika Bearman, will host a lunch to fete the collection.

Duma, who Suveyke calls an “entrepreneur in the digital space,” was integral to the range’s creative campaign, illustrating product that’s clearly from the designer “but speaking to The Outnet woman.” Duma also has a significant social media presence, boasting over 500,000 followers on Instagram.

Bolen said Duma gives the collection an international flavor.

“Point number two on our to-do list for digital next year is to get our site translated into Arabic. [The first is improving the mobile experience],” Bolen said. “It seems very specific, but when we look at traffic coming internationally, we have to be able to talk to those customers in their native language.”

He added that a quick sell-through rate and reaching a new audience were the obvious goals for the collaboration — but his most interesting takeaway from the initial collaboration was unexpected: The Outnet customer is also an Oscar de la Renta customer.

Part of the preliminary arrangement between the two parties earlier this year was that The Outnet would share the names and e-mail addresses of the customers who clicked on or shopped the collection with Oscar de la Renta so the brand could market to this group directly.

Bolen maintained that once directly marketed to, this list of 20,000 people had twice the average e-mail open rate and twice the click through rate on oscardelarenta.com versus existing customers. He revealed that although this group has only spent about $60,000 on the brand so far, they are “great prospects for us to continue to talk to on a regular basis.”

Bolen values quality over quantity, and instead of just acquiring new fans via the social mediums, he wants to seek out potential customers the brand can engage with on a more regular basis.

“I don’t need to talk to 10 million people,” Bolen said. “I need to talk to 10,000 people who are really fashion obsessed — and I need to talk to them about why they should be thinking about Oscar de la Renta. The Outnet customer is very much that fashion-obsessed customer.”

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