LONDON — Cult items, Instagram trends and off-the-radar labels have been driving the spring 2019 buy at Net-a-porter, which has been investing deeply into single items that have the potential to become viral, from Loewe’s basket bags to By Far sandals and the new Chloé bag.
Holly Russell, Net’s buying manager, said in a presentation this week that “It” accessories in particular have become a core part of the business. Buyers make their decisions based on their instinct and a product’s past performance.
The Bulgarian footwear brand By Far has been making waves with its sleek, modernist sandals so the retailer has decided to back its new spring styles, buying more than 1,000 units. The latest Chloé bag made up 80 percent of the company’s overall Chloé bag buy, with 3,000 units.
Other purchases include those controversial cycling shorts — given the success of Burberry’s iteration for fall. Net is expecting to see a similar response to the Fendi and Prada styles it has bought for spring and has increased its number of shorts options by 120 percent over last year.
One-piece swimsuits have also proven a winner for Net: After selling more than 700 Gucci logo suits, the retailer is broadening its offering to include glamorous versions by Alessandra Rich and Saint Laurent, as well as more minimalist ones by the contemporary Hungarian label Nanushka.
Jacquemus’ barely there summer dresses and shell necklaces by Istanbul-based label Tohum are also on Net’s summer shopping list.
Russell said the buying team fell for the “infectious summer mood” on the Jacquemus runway and increased its investment in the brand by 50 percent, buying up to 18 runway looks. As for Tohum, which was under the radar until last summer, it quickly became the site’s best-selling jewelry brand and has sold up to 800 units to date.
The company is also working increasingly with influencers to promote these key pieces, via the Net Set, its network of influencer partners that spans 144 influencers across more than 20 countries.
Russell said Net has been generating “double-digit million sales” from influencer posts and is looking to deepen its relationships with them, and to own the space of influencer marketing.
See-now-buy-now is another big area of focus for Net, which said it’s a reflection of the way modern consumers want to shop.
To achieve this, the retailer has been working with designers on exclusive capsules made to suit the retailer’s delivery schedule better.
Last spring it introduced a series of capsules of resort wear to coincide with European summer holidays, while it is now in the process of debuting 46 party capsules in time for holiday season. Rixo, Blazé Milano, Galvan, Malone Souliers and Christian Louboutin have all participated in the project, which launched with a dedicated campaign, shot in the Net-a-porter London offices, that turns a company meeting room into a dance floor.
Russell said to keep feeding the customer’s appetite for newness, the company is continuing its Vanguard scheme, which allows it to take emerging talent on board “in a responsible way.” The Vanguard launched last summer as a way of supporting emerging talent via mentorship, access to Net’s creative studio and coverage across its global campaigns.
Some of the emerging labels joining Net’s roster of designers for spring include the Tbilisi-based label Matériel, Bernadette which Russell said will be “the next cult dress brand,” and handbag labels Medea Sisters and TL-100.