Image courtesy of Hood By Air
Shayne Oliver didn’t get into fashion to do it like everybody else, and his relaunched site for his cult classic androgy-menswear line Hood By Air is perfectly in tune with that notion. The home page features 360 views of all the looks–men stomping across your screen in Demeulemeester-esque knee-high combat boots and drape-y leather. Click on store and you can shop raining men–actually not kidding–and shop on the looks that catch your eye. So, if you’re looking to change up your e-tail experience, or add some variety to your add-to-cart addiction, HBA’s new site is worth a click–or more. Click away.
The recession may be far from over, but retail in NYC is on the rebound. Rents are rising all across the city with regard to commercial spaces, but especially in and on shopping hubs like Soho and Madison Avenue. “Though unemployment in the city remains high — and the office market is showing only minimal improvement — retail leasing began picking up late last year and has been accelerating this year,” says the New York Times. And, thanks to increasing foot traffic by way of tourists, the potential for such improvement to continue looks promising. As for newcomers to the NYC retail game, the Times points to South Korea’s Hollister-esque Who A. U. and Spain’s undies-friendly Desigual. But, perhaps the most interesting facet of this change in the commercial real estate market is the effect it will have on the recession-induced shopping phenomenon: the pop-up shop.
“A year ago, there were probably 20 spaces where you could put a temporary tenant,” real estate broker Stephen Tarter told the New York Times of Soho’s pop-up shop options, adding, “now there are about three.” As commercial spaces continue to fill their floors with stock that will stick around indefinitely, the eagerness to put in boutiques willing to make just a few months commitment are likely to appeal to landlords less and less. So, while the novelty of pop-up shops has appealed to consumers much in the same way that flash sale sites and designer collaborations have (all being available for a limited time only), if rents continue to rise, the temporary retail trend looks increasingly less likely to maintain its appeal.
While pretty much everyone from formidable brand scions to independent designers have constructed their own virtual storefronts, the future of retail is wide open when it comes to how consumers will one day identify, investigate, and purchase products. Take, for instance, Frog Design. The company “has envisioned a concept scenario called ThinkBook, in which a future where every object is connected to the internet plays a critical role in how we might eventually shop for products,” says PSFK, which recently compiled a (free) 80-page report on the future of retail. In layman’s terms, this essentially means that if you spot someone strolling through Union Square wearing shoes you just can’t live without, you’ll be able to snap a photo of the kicks in question and have all the product information you want, including where to purchase it, in seconds.
This isn’t the only revolutionary retail advancement PSFK touches on. “Deal sites such as Coupon Sherpa and Cellfire already enable consumers to search for discounts from brands and access them on their mobile phones to be presented at checkout,” while portholes like Foursquare and Gowalla are letting businesses target consumers with location-based promotions. Subports, “a retail shopping platform through which customers use text messages to purchase items,” likewise gets a mention, as does barcode-scanning and image recognition software from the likes of Stripey Lines, ShopSavvy, and Amazon. In other words, hold on to your hats! Retail is one industry undergoing quite the makeover.
Numerous magazines have been embracing the increasingly popular editorial meets e-commerce model in recent seasons. Lucky has its own shopping system as does Another Magazine; not to mention online news outlet Refinery 29. Meanwhile, Vogue has partnered with Gilt Groupe while Elle has teamed with Rue La La to offer special shopping initiatives, says the Business of Fashion. But, few fashion rags have committed so vehemently to upping the shopping ante as In Style.
A property of Time Inc., In Style originally launched its shopping feature back in 2007. Since then it has “moved more than $10 million in product,” says its director of digital operations, Simeen Mohsen. Then, “in January, the publisher acquired StyleFeeder, a personal shopping engine that uses pattern recognition technology to make product recommendations,” adds BoF. And, now comes news that the magazine will now feature exclusive items from one of Los Angeles’ most celebrated luxury consignment retailers—Decadestwo.
The new shopping facet launches today. “Every Tuesday, the site will feature a selection of the boutique’s clothing and accessories curated from the closets of consignors such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Courtney Love, Rachel Zoe, Selma Blair, and Julianne Moore,” says Daily Front Row. Shoppers can then snag the wares in question by using a “dedicated reservation email” that will only be listed on InStyle.com. But the partnership won’t be relegated solely to shopping, there’s an editorial element as well. Christos Garkinos—co-owner of Decadestwo—will contribute to the magazine’s blog, “What’s Right Now,” offering handpicks and answers to reader’s style queries.
Net-A-Porter.com was arguably one of the first online retailers to hawk high-end designer goods to an international clientele. Its model has proved wildly potent. Countless brands have exerted efforts to mimic Net-A-Porter’s approach, which likewise includes original editorial content. And for good reason: the UK-based brand just sold for approximately $533 million to Richemont–the parent company of luxury brands such as Cartier and Chloe. “Natalie Massenet, who founded Net-a-Porter in 2000, [alone] is estimated to pocket £50 million (approx. $76 million) with the sale of her 18 percent stake in the company,” says Fashionologie.
While the sale will surely bring some changes to the virtual retailer, fans of the site can rest assured Massenet will maintain her executive post (not to mention invest £15 million from the sale back into her company). “Mark Sebba, Net-a-Porter’s chief executive, is also said to be staying on,” says Fashionologie. News has it with the sale will come expansions into Southeast Asia that will surely be exceptionally lucrative for Net-A-Porter. But, there is some skepticism afloat: apparently critics are concerned that the sale may be a catalyst that causes certain luxury brands to pull their stock from Net-A-Porter’s racks says the Financial Times.
Regardless, the sale marks a monumental point in online retail’s evolution. Given the success of the Net-A-Porters and Gilt Groupes of the world, expect the landscape of virtual shops to become increasingly cluttered. Standout retailers like the aforementioned sites will continue to hold prominence over an increasingly proliferated market. But as the economy continues to strengthen, there will surely be a newfound flood of aspiring shopkeepers looking to cash in on the burgeoning vertical.