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St. John will launch a new Web site today, bringing its rebranding efforts closer to completion.
This story first appeared in the September 10, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We had a lot on the agenda for this year and we are checking them off,” said chief executive officer Glenn McMahon. “One of the challenges we had over the past couple of years was that none of the elements – the product, advertising, Web site – were connected. The site is finally giving us a chance to communicate all this to the customer.”
McMahon said that the final component will be the redesigned retail stores that have a residential quality. The first is to open this month in The Shops at Bal Harbour in Florida.
The new Web site, designed by New York-based firm createthe group, which is responsible for the Internet launch and relaunches of fashion houses from Marc Jacobs to Stella McCartney to Bottega Veneta, features a sleek dark backdrop against which customers can view the runway show, backstage footage, a time line of St. John’s iconic print ads, the apparel and accessories, as well as behind-the-scenes information about the products’ craftsmanship.
“We wanted people to experience the same things we did when we went to the factory and saw how every piece is made there, which is not typical for a fashion house,” said createthe’s chief executive office and co-founder, James Gardner.
The site’s e-commerce element is a seamless link to the Neiman Marcus online store, but St. John plans to launch its own e-commerce site early next year.
“We have a healthy online business already, which is pretty surprising given that our core customer is a little older, but they are shopping and researching online, and there was a demand to modernize our site,” McMahon said.
The company forecasts that online sales eventually will account for 10 to 20 percent of its total revenue, with its future e-commerce site bringing in about $20 million annually.
“They are taking a very modern approach to how they look at fashion online and are willing to experiment, whereas other companies are typically a bit more controlled,” said createthe’s creative director Tony King.
Future additions to the site include migrating the content of St. John’s in-house magazine, as well as some online community features aimed at its loyal fans and cultlike collectors.