High fashion websites: are they missing a trick?

With the success of Net-a-Porter and the steady sales of luxury products continuing despite signs of a recession, why are luxury products not capitalising on this with strong online brand engagement activity?

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Many fashion brand owners aspire to having websites such as Gucci or Dior’s, but a list of the top 50 best fashion and beauty websites in the Telegraph (10/10/08 ) suggests they should be looking elsewhere for sites to emulate. Of the 50 websites featured in the list, only Mulberry made it in with websites from brands such as Gucci and Dior not featuring.

The reason these sites didn’t feature on this list is not because they look bad or don’t show any of the products, it’s due to the fact they provide the user with no real quality content. In an age where content is king, all you are presented with is a series of glossy photos and an unnecessary amount of Flash graphics. What about information on how it is made? The heritage of the brand? The quality of materials? Who is the creative director? What will the next line look like? What is going to be the next big thing for the brand? These questions will all be important to the user but are just not answered.

A luxury goods website should not be a glossy magazine in online format, but a true experience where you get the same boutique feel of the Bond Street store from the comfort of your own home. You should be provided with quality content that answers questions that a customer would have asked the shop assistant if they were to visit an outlet store, feel engaged with the brand and then, should they wish to do so, purchase an item in an easy to use online store backed by quality service both before and after purchase.

Having a site such as this would not only encourage customers to engage with the brand; learning what the brand is about and if it is for them, but also increase loyalty to the brand, driving repeat sales. This is something that a luxury brand would demand in store so why not online?

Luxury fashion brands are scared to break the mold and do something different. I think the ‘everyone else has a Flash site with pretty pictures so so should I’ attitude is a wrong.

For brands to be successful they need to challenge perceptions, engage change and not shy away from risks. One such brand that has done just that is Dunhill. Their website uses Flash where Flash is needed and not just for the sake of it, it provides content on the history of the brand and highlights its strong heritage in leather goods making. They have used Jude Law as a brand ambassador (he has been quoted as liking Dunhill before he signed for them and is a perfect fit), discuss their values and ideas, talk about the history of certain items of clothing and where they originated from and really provide the user with engaging content in a luxury environment – like you would expect if you visited their flagship Jermyn Street store.

High end fashion labels need to stop looking at what their competitors are doing and go it alone, bringing around change themselves and not waiting for others to do it then following suit. A brand that makes the shift from having content that consumers merely view, to having content of value that they engage with, will surely have long-term success in what is already a highly cluttered retail environment.

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~ by Simon Bocko on December 8, 2008.

One Response to “High fashion websites: are they missing a trick?”

  1. I think you are on to something here! Brands need to make sure that every possible touch point provides consumers with the experience their brand aims to portray.

    For luxury brands this is obviously important. In a recession, what your brand stands for and the sharpness and clarity it is communicated in is important. In a time when people are moving to shopping more and more online it is important. So for luxury brands, you could say this is vital. Thanks dearjon, look forward to hearing more.

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