Rejina Pyo  RTW Fall 2018

LONDON — Net-a-porter is broadening its reach with a bigger variety of price points, a more international outlook and investment in new categories and emerging names.

The online retailer is set to debut next month a series of exclusive partnerships with the contemporary designers it believes in as a testament to the growing strength of the category.

“For us as a retailer the appeal is clear, it’s a category that has shown big growth and it’s attracting a new customer,” said Lisa Aiken, Net’s fashion director, in a presentation outlining the fall 2018 trends the retailer is standing behind. “These designers have completely reinvented the contemporary market. There are no longer any negative connotations of contemporary brands [being associated] with diluted product.”

Some of the brands highlighted in the upcoming “Contemporary Collective” campaign include Wandler, By Far, Rejina Pyo and Ganni, one of the top-performing labels for the company.

Net is also heavily investing in newness for the upcoming season, with 80 launches in the works, a significant portion of which are in the contemporary arena.

Some of the new, hot names to take note of are the woven footwear label Souliers Martinez, with prices starting at 400 pounds; Gu-De, a Seoul-based handbag label that stands out for its stamped croc bucket bags retailing at 545 pounds, and Trademark, best known for its wristlet bags and croc-effect accessories retailing at 325 pounds.

“Trademark has been on the site for a few seasons, but we are really standing behind it now. It’s the next big one for us,” added Aiken, pointing to the growing popularity of croc-effect accessories in the contemporary market. A stamped croc bucket bag by Staud is said to have sold out within five days of its launch on the site.

Staud's Marabou bag, priced at $325, retail.

Staud’s Marabou bag, priced at $325.  Courtesy

The retailer has also bought into the Stockholm-based outerwear label Rains and is set to unveil its line of glossy raincoats, priced at 190 pounds, as well as the Parisian brand Les Heroines known for its occasion wear.

“The [Les Heroines] dresses retail for 275 pounds. It’s the sweet spot for us to speak to girls who want a lot of options for summer. Thank you Instagram,” said Aiken, highlighting a correlation between the rise of more accessibly priced brands and a need to always show off new outfits on social media.

The retailer also sees opportunity in other categories such as eyewear, which has seen 60 percent growth this season. The category, driven by the likes of Victoria Beckham and Tom Ford, targets women who are looking for a more fashion-forward alternative for their prescription glasses.

High summer is another category the retailer is focusing on this year. Aiken said high summer pieces now make up 20 percent of the retailer’s seasonal buy, meaning a “significant investment” from Net’s part, made as a response to the shifting fashion calendar.

“We’ve all tried to buy a bikini in July with little success,” she said, pointing to the need for new product drops in the summer months. “Few designers offer this delivery so we made it our mission to find the right product.”

This year’s high summer offering will include 39 brand launches and 27 exclusive capsules from the likes of Balmain, Altuzarra, Zimmerman, Lisa Marie Fernandes and Rosie Assoulin. Net will promote the growing category with a campaign, dubbed Jet-a-porter.

Aiken pointed to a growing need to offer a full vacation wardrobe to customers — kaftans, for instance, a previously unloved and forgotten fashion item, make up 60 percent of the retailer’s beachwear offer.

Backstage at Givenchy RTW Fall 2018

Backstage at Givenchy RTW Fall 2018  Delphine Achard/WWD

Net is also taking a strong stance on the fur debate with continued investment in faux-fur labels. “We are very supportive of the no-fur movement and while more can be done in terms of sustainability, it’s definitely the step in the right direction. There have been so many developments in this sector, the coloration and textures of faux-fur products are so close to the real thing now, they are no longer the cheaper alternative,” said Aiken, pointing to the luxurious fur coats on the Givenchy runway and more accessibly priced options by labels such as Staud and Fuzz Not Fur, another new label to the site.

Vegan leather has also been making its presence felt, with contemporary labels like Budapest-based Nanushka leading the way with easily washable, ultrasoft pieces at attractive price points. “I would approach vegan leather with trepidation before seeing the quality of the Nanushka pieces,” added Aiken.

Nanushka RTW Fall 2018

Nanushka RTW Fall 2018  Courtesy Photo

While Net-a-porter is renewing its focus on emerging names  and accessible price points, big brands such as Prada, Balenciaga, Gucci, Fendi and Chloé remain important for the company and are the main drivers of seasonal trends, such as the growing popularity of neons and over-the-top adornment.

In particular, Chloé’s performance in ready to wear and shoes has overtaken that of bags — “a testament that customers are on board with Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s vision.”

Fendi’s FF capsule collection also saw great success, with the majority of the styles selling out within a week. “Customers’ appetite for logos isn’t going anywhere,” said Aiken.

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