Arriving fashionably late to the online party, Anna Wintour is assisting Conde Nast with the move into virtual shopping through a revamp of website style.com. The upgrade is expected this autumn and is intended to provide what the company describes as “a shopping experience inspired by the world’s best magazines,” claiming that readers of their magazines Vogue, Vanity Fair, Wired and GQ amount to the “top 5 per cent of the world’s population.”
This elite readership, according to company chairman Jonathon Newhouse, will give “style.com an enormous advantage of its competitors.”
The revamped style site will compete with established companies such as Net-a-Porter and other luxury websites, pitting Wintour against fellow fashion maven Natalie Massenet, her personal friend and owner of Net-a-Porter site. Tensions are already rising before the launch of the Conde Nast venture, with Massanet taking measures to ensure she and her company maintain their online presence and advantage.
Just this week, Massenet introduced The Net Set app, which aims to bridge social networks and social media. Due for release next Wednesday, the app allows users to share fashion items they love through images, with a live feed of current events and a following system base akin to Instagram. Forget E-commerce, Massenet is venturing into S-Commerce.
“Digital innovation doesn’t stand still and neither do we,” claimed the trendsetting Massenet who, according to app vice-president Sarah Watson, set them the challenge of coming up with a fashion-based social platform almost two years ago.
We can’t help but note this comes just after the announcement of style.com; certainly, it seems like strategic timing. She may have started as a lowly magazine assistant, but it appears being challenged by legendary fashion editor Anna Wintour, a woman who can make-or-break careers, is only driving Massenet harder.
Let’s hope she’s up for the challenge, because Wintour’s not the only one gunning for her top spot on the Internet. After years of being dismissive and disinterested in online sales, more and more luxury brands are opting for e-commerce. Even Chanel is on board, despite their president of fashion, Bruno Pavlovsky, once declaring that “to be able to wear Chanel clothes, you need to try them on.”
But even the luxury labels will have to play catch up to Massenet. Net-a-Porter currently sell 390 labels in 170 countries, with an estimated website value of £350m. In fact, in the space of a few minutes last week, a shopper in Saudi Arabia spent £2500 on a black chiffon dress, another in Russia dropped £545 on an orange bikini, all while another 60,000 viewers browsed the site!
Let’s hope Newhouse is right about his extravagant clientele: Conde Nast are going to need all the help they can get.