NET-A-PORTER ADDS JIMMY CHOO

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — Nascent British e-tailer Net-a-porter.com has found a new partner to play with: Jimmy Choo, whose Web site has just become the portal’s first e-boutique, WWD has learned.
The commerce and content-based fashion portal, which went live last June, has added Choo — a shoemeister to the stars, including many at Sunday’s Oscars — to a roster of roughly 40 designer labels. That lineup comprises apparel, accessories and footwear under such names as Katayone Adeli, William B., Diane Von Furstenberg, Elspeth Gibson, Missoni, Bottega Veneta, Cacharel and Luella Bartley.
“It’s the first time we’ve developed this type of partnership and we are looking to develop this kind of relationship with other fashion sites,” said Natalie Massenet, founder and managing director of Net-a-porter.com.
“Jimmy Choo and Net-a-porter are both London-based, and Jimmy Choo is our best-selling shoe brand, so this one was pretty easy to get together,” Massenet continued, in an interview from her home in London, Tuesday. “We think it’s a shoe moment; we think shoes are the new handbags.” The Choo boutique can be entered via jimmychoo.com and as well on Net-a-porter itself. Net-a-porter recently started carrying shoes from Christian Louboutin, Alberta Ferretti and Patrick Cox, for example, and has plans to add Narciso Rodriguez footwear this fall.
Asked if more deals for similar e-boutiques are afoot, Massenet said, “We are currently in talks with other parties, including a U.S.-based apparel company.” She declined to name the firm.
Nine-month-old Net-a-porter is on track to turn a profit by Dec. 31, according to Massenet, who said the portal, which is funded by private investors, is “exceeding the business plan.” Half the site’s sales stem from apparel, with the balance evenly divided between footwear and accessories, she noted. Users from the U.S. account for approximately 65 percent of customers at Net-a-porter, a site whose goods are available worldwide and, thus far, has transacted purchases in 24 countries.
Massenet envisions the portal as a Web destination aimed at fashion addicts. She believes her users are an elite group who want the hottest labels and looks — before anyone else — and will pay full retail for them. Massenet is aiming to build a base of about 40,000 cyber customers by 2003.