NEW YORK — After almost a decade in the rough and tumble world of finance, Alisa Ng, a Hong Kong native, experienced the economic meltdown firsthand and so gave up on the banking world to launch L-Atitude, a global marketplace selling unique, high-end accessories.
This story first appeared in the August 10, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
While adding another fashion shopping site to an already oversaturated landscape might not seem a great idea, Ng contends that what makes her company stand out is that it offers consumers an experience to virtually travel to the exotic places where she and her team have handpicked artisan-made, one-of-a-kind baubles, handbags, shoes and apparel.
“What really differentiates us is that we are a full-on experience of virtual travel,” said Ng, explaining that her site not only offers wares from countries like Mumbai, Bali, Stockholm, Milan and Istanbul, but also provides information in the form of a travelogue for shoppers who plan on visiting those locales. Users can shop via locale, product, designer or activity, ranging from beach chic to Global Give, with proceeds from products bought in that category going to various causes.
“The way people are shopping today, they are looking for things that are well priced, unique and are luxury,” said chief merchandising officer and senior buyer Ashley Wick, who modeled a gold gladiator-inspired cuff from Milan and an oversize necklace made of shells and gemstones from South Africa.
“It helps to be connected to the right tastemakers and to those who we think have style,” said Wick, who previously worked in public relations for Anya Hindmarch and Diane von Furstenberg.
Dipping into their fashion contacts, the pair traveled to Istanbul with Garance Doré to curate their first collection last year.
Launched in December, the self-financed L-Atitude carries merchandise ranging in price from $15 to $1,000 — with some made-to-order offerings like an $18,000 ring they found in Turkey. While it houses some inventory in a warehouse in New Jersey, the company functions mainly as a marketplace, with vendors shipping directly to shoppers. They are hoping to operate on the marketplace model exclusively in the future.
Despite ambitious growth plans — L-Atitude has vendors in nine destinations and plans to expand by two locations a season — the company has a relatively laid-back feeling.
Located in the heart of the Garment District here, the showroom is small, bright and doubles as an office for the company’s all-female staff of 15, who work busily updating the site’s “blogazine,” as well as preparing for its upcoming resort collection of accessories from Africa set to launch in October.
“This is the new luxury,” said Ng, looking around the colorful, organized showroom. “It’s what is hard to get and what is authentic.”