With Natalie Massenet’s exit from Net-A-Porter, the company will likely lose the edge that that made it the number 1 browsing and ordering choice of the jet set at wine o’clock.
Already, with the sale of majority shares to the Richemont Group some years ago, the shift in focus from delivering desire to delivering sales was starting to be evident. How? A more insipid choice of merch each season, too many items going on sale during the two annual sales seasons, and too many accounts, to name a few. For its first crop of designers, the joy in participating in Massenet’s project was in being one of a select few set of people creating exciting items that would be showcased together on that special platform to delight women around the world.
There is a joy in seeing very pretty things showcased together. Massenet showed us we didn’t have to go to a Dolce and Gabbana store window or the Prado Museum to feel that high — it could be delivered, via high-resolution images, multiple-angle shots, and smart copy, with a click of a button or the swipe of a finger. So seeing that her exit from NAP has left a vacuum of desire, here are five of our top contenders to fill it.
- Totokaelo: if the name hasn’t already convinced you that this Seattle-based e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar retailer is Japanese in its philosophy, the sparseness of its design will. Rachel Comey, Yohji Yamamoto, and Maison Martin Margiela aren’t big accounts that are stocked everywhere, but therein lies Totokaelo’s finesse.
- Matches Fashion: I love the matches. You love the matches. Everybody loves the matches. Lanvin, Loewe, Oscar de la Renta, Matches’ selections each season are the creme of the crop of some of the most artisanal designers, of which there aren’t many left.
- Minku: Speaking of artisanal designers, Minku has a small, artisanal e-commerce presence with a handmade feel. Were there a slow-food movement equivalent for clothing and accessories, Minku would be a firm member. Erring on the side of having too few merchandise items, what this Nigerian brand does have — leather bags, luggage, leather-bound journals, glass-bead bracelets, and densely-woven cotton clothing — awakens desire through attention to detail in both creation and presentation.
- Browns Fashion: How such a small London boutique managed to catch the eye at Net-A-Porter/Colette levels is still a mystery. One guess is that it is down to the fearlessness of their buyers. It’s the brands you know, like Del Pozo, Balenciaga, Olympia Le-Tan and Dolce & Gabbana, but some of their most desirable pieces.
- Luisa Via Roma: The name is long, but if you remember the order of all its vowels, it delivers a pretty selection of items. Like with Net-A-Porter, you may have to filter through quite some stuff to get to the heartwarming items (case in point: 1,682 items in the Fashion Jewellry category alone), but they are there. Brands: Dolce and Gabbana, Jimmy Choo, Chloe, Saint Laurent, Dries Van Noten, Bottega Veneta.
Have we missed some of your favourite inspirations for a wine o’clock merch browse? Include them in the comments!