EVENING STANDARD February 26th 2015
What's hot dot com: time to try some e-tail therapy
The online fashion revolution just moved up a gear thanks to a host of hip new boutiques
- ROSAMUND URWIN
- Thursday 26 February 2015 15:22
Here's a stat to make you feel old: Asos turns 15 this year. The online fashion store loved by teens and twentysomethings launched in 2000, at a time when buying clothes over the internet was still something of a novelty.
It's now a style goliath: 9.1 million customers shopped on the site last year, 3.7 million of whom were in the UK (yet half the population still seems to mispronounce its name - it should be Ace-Oss).
Net-a-Porter, the one-click wonder for luxury labels, started out at almost the same time. The deliverer of little black boxes and painful credit card bills is now owned by the Swiss conglomerate Richemont. It receives around 2.5 million unique visits each month, and now has a discount site, the Outnet, a sportswear section, Net-a-Sporter, a men's site, Mr Porter, and its own glossy mag, Porter.
In total, the UK's online fashion market was worth an estimated £10 billion last year, with Mintel predicting it will grow to £19 billion by 2019. So if Asos and Net-a-Porter are now the old guard - the online establishment - who are the young up-starts snapping at their heels?
USP: The label, which launched earlier this month, is aimed at women who want better-made garments than you find in most high-street stores but without paying mid-market prices. Finery’s clothes are mostly sleek and unfussy — all clean lines and quality materials. There are nods to trends but it’s not chasing the kind of fashion obsessives who have the confidence to wear this season’s Christopher Kane straight off the catwalk. A rib-neck jersey tee costs £15, a V-neck leather dress £169.
The brains behind it: Fashion blogger Susie Bubble describes Finery’s team as the “goddesses of the British high street”. It is led by Caren Downie who, as a former fashion director of Asos and ex-buying director of Topshop, has long been one of British style’s chief trendsetters. She has brought on board Emma Farrow, formerly Topshop’s design director, and Rachel Morgan, ex-womenswear buyer at Asos.
Our pick: Hunton leather biker jacket, £249. finerylondon.com
Our pick: Hunton leather biker jacket
USP: Run by the same company behind Very.co.uk, its raison d’etre is to democratise labels. Products are at the top end of the mid-market — think Current Elliot flared jeans (£200) or a Karl Lagerfeld mini dress (£335) — but you pay in three instalments, so you can tick an item off your lust-list but spread the hit to your bank balance.
The brain behind it: This is the bounceback project for Sarah Curran, the Mywardrobe.com founder. She quit the site in June 2013 and it later collapsed into administration then closed for good at the end of last year.
Our Pick: Day Birger Et Mikkelsen organi crochet top, £480. veryexclusive.co.uk
Our Pick: Day Birger Et Mikkelsen organi crochet top
USP: A Hoxton Square-based start-up, Lyst is described as “a social curation platform for online fashion”. It’s a shopping aggregator, enabling customers to browse items from designers from lots of different retailers. Lyst takes its users’ preferences and builds them a personalised online shop. It caters for both men and women.
The brains behind it: The site was founded four years ago by Chris Morton, a Cambridge-educated Jamie Dornan lookalike who used to work in venture capital. Miyon Im, formerly of the Outnet, is Lyst’s head of product, while Morton’s lawyer wife has been his reviewer in chief.
Our pick: No such thing, Lyst is tailored to you. lyst.com
Our pick: No such thing, Lyst is tailored to you
USP: A hipster eBay, essentially, mingled with Pinterest. The Italian-born mobile app (which now has a Shoreditch office as well) describes itself — in a slightly twee way — as “your little shop in your pocket”. You can sell products by simply uploading a photo, but also use the site to track down the garment that got away.
The brains behind it: The chief executive is Copenhagen native Runar Reistrup. He was a founding member of mobile social network start-up ZYB, which was bought by Vodafone for €31.5 million in 2008.
Our Pick: Sophie Webster Millie bauble-detail glitter flats, a bargain at £50 (size 3). depop.com
USP: A hipster eBay, essentially, mingled with Pinterest
USP: A Munich-based Net-a-Porter but with fewer labels and a bigger choice of each brand. “The best of the best” is how it describes its products. The company was bought by Neiman Marcus last year.
The brains behind it: MyTheresa’s buying director is Justin O’Shea, a street-style snapper’s fantasy of a man, with his Victorian preacher beard, tattoos and perfect three-piece suits. A former miner (no, really), the Aussie is one half of a fashion power couple with one of the front row’s most fashion-forward and beautiful members, Veronika Heilbrunner.
Our Pick: Nicholas Kirkwood’s Angie suede-trimmed lace pumps, £520. mytheresa.com
Our Pick: Nicholas Kirkwood’s Angie suede-trimmed lace pumps
USP: The London Bridge-based company champions young designers from the UK and China. The idea is to bring tomorrow’s Mary Katrantzous and Yiqing Yins to a global audience at the beginning of their careers.
The brains behind it: Chief exec Marc Cameron previously founded Seven Magazine, and also runs 2210 Entrepreneur, a not-for-profit which hosts events for start-ups.
Our pick: Kimono style-coat, £685. 2210fashion.com
USP: The London Bridge-based company champions young designers from the UK and China