NEW YORK — Style.com is setting up shop.
The Web site, the online home of Vogue and W that boasted 956,000 unique visitors in March, will launch The Shop on Style.com next month, featuring a rotating group of eight to 10 different merchants each week seeking e-commerce in a “turnkey” environment.
Participating vendors each will offer 24 items, often exclusives, for sale in individual shops on the site, a property of CondéNet, which is owned by Advance Publications, parent of WWD.
Among the companies signed on so far are Club Monaco, Sigerson Morrison, Lucy Barnes, Edmundo Castillo, Yigal Azrouël, Hanky Panky, Tocca, Amy Chan, Rosa Cha and Buzz by Jane Fox. In addition, Prescriptives, Tomas Maier (swimwear), Agent Provocateur, Tory Burch, APC, Me & Ro, Ben Sherman and Diane von Furstenberg will have portals to their own e-commerce sites on The Shop.
Based on a sliding fee structure, the intention is to make the site accessible to companies of various sizes, said Salomon. Style.com will charge young designers a flat fee, plus revenue share, and larger, more established firms will pay a higher flat fee, with no revenue share. For a portal, it’s a lower flat fee.
According to Dee Salomon, Style.com’s senior vice president and managing director, “The user can go there any week and find individual shops to buy merchandise. What we’ve developed is a real tool to facilitate their e-commerce. It’s a turnkey e-commerce system. They can lease it for one week.” Vendors can return once a month to set up their weekly shops.
The Shop will have a “soft launch” May 10, with a full-scale debut slated for May 17. Salomon pointed out that the first six weeks of The Shop are completely sold out. “It’s like a guerrilla store. It’s always changing and always the latest,” she said.
Von Furstenberg, who, this spring, is heavily promoting her collection based on some of her iconic prints from the Seventies, such as the print she wore on the cover of Newsweek or when Andy Warhol illustrated her — explained why she chose to have a link on Style.com: “I think Style.com is the premium site in terms of fashion. It’s dynamic, and I’ve liked it from the beginning. They’ve had a nice growth and an organic growth.”
Christine Zarett, president of Sigerson Morrison, said the footwear company has worked closely with Style.com through its advertising and editorial departments and was well acquainted with the similarities they shared among their customer base. Sigerson Morrison also sells its products on its own Web site.
She said Sigerson Morrison plans to offer a good representation of its spring-summer footwear collection, showcasing between 10 and 15 styles in three or four color versions.
Caroline Dougherty, senior director of public relations and marketing at Club Monaco, believes The Shop will bring Club Monaco “a savvy audience.”
“We feel there is a great synergy between the Style.com viewers and the Club Monaco customer. We also know that there is a strong demand for online shopping, especially with our 25- to 35-year-old demographic,” she said. Dougherty expects the exposure to a national audience “will create anticipation and excitement for Club Monaco’s expansion into new markets.”
With the site, a user will go to Style.com, and click on The Shop on Style.com. She then will arrive at the landing page that lists the names of participants for the week, with a photograph of their products. The user then clicks on the picture of the product in which she is interested to see the 24 styles being offered by the vendor on a scroll bar across the bottom. (She doesn’t have to click on different pages to look at a vendor’s merchandise.) The site will inform the user how long it will take to get the item, whether it must be special ordered, or if it’s sold out. The user selects what she wants, and puts it in her shopping bag, and when she’s ready to check out, Style.com will take the order, calculate the sales tax and shipping costs and e-mail the information to the participating vendor. The vendor, in turn, will fulfill and ship the order, and take returns, if necessary. The Shop is sponsored by American Express, so for those who use their American Express card, there are no shipping costs, said Salomon.
According to Sarah Chubb, president of CondéNet, “This is a consumer who likes to shop and likes things that are special.” She said it’s also the type of customer who will wait for something to be made, especially if a vendor isn’t making many of them.
Style.com has had previous forays into the world of e-commerce. Last fall, it established a holiday shop featuring designer merchandise from luxury labels such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Versace. In late 2000, Style.com set up an ambitious e-commerce operation in a joint effort with Neiman Marcus under which the Web site chose the inventory, Neiman’s sourced it and Style.com got a percentage of the revenues. But Style.com realized it wasn’t a retailer and decided to morph the venture into an advertising relationship. Consequently, it was able to retain Neiman’s as the biggest advertiser on the site, and bring in others, such as Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Chubb pointed out that Style.com has done some very successful trunk shows on the site with designers such as Marc Jacobs and Manolo Blahnik. Last September, it had a successful run with 15 limited-edition styles of Manolo Blahnik shoes, which it sold in conjunction with Neiman Marcus for $545 to $1,600.