Net-a-porter has another notch on its exclusive, luxury brand collaboration belt — Tiffany & Co. has partnered with the e-commerce site for a rare wholesale distribution deal. Beginning April 27, selections from Tiffany’s T collection will be available through Net-a-porter, which will be the American jewelry brand’s only global wholesale channel.
“It’s a first, and, like any first, we are excited,” said Philippe Galtié, senior vice president of international sales at Tiffany & Co. “Tiffany is a retailer. Until the 27th of April, you can only buy a Tiffany creation in Tiffany stores and our e-commerce store.”
Tiffany exercises extreme control over its retail distribution. Galtié emphasized that the partnership with Net-a-porter is not an indication that the jewelry retailer is interested in expanding its wholesale network. Rather, the brand wants access to Net-a-porter’s fashion-driven audience.
“We have started the conversation with our customers about style long ago, and the T collection is a very successful fashion jewelry collection,” said Galtié. “But with the Net-a-porter collaboration, there’s the possibility to reach out to a new and very engaged clientele that might not know Tiffany as well.”
Working with Net-a-porter will give the $4.1 billion Tiffany brand even greater reach: Net-a-porter is available in 170 countries while Tiffany’s operates e-commerce in only 13.
For Net-a-porter, the Tiffany collaboration is another coup, a high-profile addition to the cache of luxury brand e-commerce firsts it’s racked up, beginning with the Chanel fine jewelry collaboration Coco Crush around a year ago. “The feedback we get is the customer is enjoying these elite offers,” said Heather Kaminetsky, Net-a-porter’s global vice president of marketing. “Specifically with fine jewelry, there’s this trend…Women used to wait to be gifted fine jewelry, but we’re finding they’re buying more jewelry for themselves and there doesn’t need to be an occasion.”
The Coco Crush exclusive was the first time Chanel had sold anything other than beauty products online. Kaminetsky noted in the U.S. the collection sold out within 48 hours, with some items selling out within minutes. “With the Coco Crush campaign, so many people who we had never had as customers before became customers of ours,” she said.
The Chanel project was a one-off, limited-time deal. In that respect, the Tiffany collaboration is different. There’s no set time frame. “It’s open ended in a way,” said Galtié. “We’ll see, depending on customer response, how it goes. We are very pragmatic, but it’s the beginning of a new adventure. For us, it’s an important move because we’ve never done this before.”
The T collection was launched in fall 2014 under the creative direction of Francesca Amfitheatrof, who joined Tiffany as design director in September 2013 and has raised the house’s fashion profile. Galtié said Amfitheatrof was not part of the discussions with Net-a-porter, but both companies agreed the T collection was ideal for this partnership because of its clean, aesthetic. “It’s in line with what we’re seeing in terms of trends,” said Kaminetsky. “It’s minimal. It’s good for layering, which is definitely what the customer is looking for.”
The selection available on Net-a-porter will include 32 pieces — bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings — with prices ranging from $950 to $20,000, which is in line with Net-a-porter’s current fine jewelry offer.
Net-a-porter will begin promoting the collection April 27 with an online campaign, direct marketing materials and outreach from its network of personal shoppers. Tiffany will also promote the partnership through digital and social channels. As for the packaging, both companies have their signatures — Tiffany’s blue box with a white ribbon and Net-a-porter’s black box with a black and white stitched ribbon. They didn’t come up with any new integration in the name of this collaboration: The Tiffany blue boxes will arrive inside the Net-a-porter black ones.
While Galtié stressed that Tiffany’s partnership with Net a Porter is not a prelude to increased wholesale, it is another step in the heritage jewelry house’s efforts to boost its fashion cred, something that’s become a focus for the brand. In the course of Tiffany’s 179-year history, its iconic little blue boxes have very rarely been available anywhere but a Tiffany store. Currently, the company has 307 of its own retail stores. About 2 percent of sales come from independent distributors in emerging markets outside of the U.S., but the shops are operated so that they are completely Tiffany branded; for example, Tiffany & Co. airport duty-free shops, where they might be operated by a third party but feel like a Tiffany boutique. Tiffany previously had limited wholesale distribution in the U.S. through small independent jewelers and select department stores, but ultimately brought everything back in-house in 2001 the name of control.
In November 2015, Tiffany linked with Dover Street Market in Tokyo, London and New York on a special “Out of Retirement” collection that Galtié noted was successful enough that many of the pieces from that capsule are now available at the New York flagship. “It was an amazing response in terms of reaching out to a new completely new type of client,” said Galtié. “Very specific, very edgy.”
Tiffany & Co.’s chief executive officer Frederic Cumenal will unveil the Net-a-porter collaboration to Tiffany’s investors this morning during the company’s first-ever Investor Day.