T he first edition of Sotheby's autumn series of 'Life is Beautiful' luxury sales sees an exciting partnership with the world's leading luxury retailer, NET-A-PORTER. The Luxury Edit: London sees highlights of Sotheby's watches and jewels sales displayed alongside an exhibition of exceptional fashion selected by NET-A-PORTER including pieces from Valentino, SAINT LAURENT, Alexander McQueen and Loewe.
Known globally for its unmatched edit of fashion, watches, jewelry and beauty, NET-A-PORTER is dedicated to nurturing the talent of the future through The Vanguard, its programme for emerging labels and designers. It also launched the NET SUSTAIN platform as a way to highlight brands with a focus on sustainability. Ahead of the exhibition, highlights of which are featured below, Libby Page, Senior Market Editor at NET-A-PORTER, explains how the platform has adapted during the pandemic, how it collaborates with designers and customer shopping habits.
Can you talk a little bit about the collaborative process that NET-A-PORTER shares with the designers it works with?
From a buying perspective, most contact with our designers is collaborative because ultimately our input on what sells helps inform their product offering each season. Our talented brands are the creative forces shaping the industry and trends, but as a business we have incredible insights from a forecasting point of view based on what we see is selling globally, and so we can anticipate what’s next whilst ensuring our brands are well informed. Our exclusive capsules are even more collaborative, and more often than not our teams are involved in the design process from start to finish which is really exciting.
For the emerging designers falling under NET-A-PORTER’s mentorship program, The Vanguard, they receive comprehensive guidance from our global team of specialists across every area of their business.
What differences do you notice working with emerging designers, versus the more established names?
What’s great is we share mutual values with all our brands, and they always listen to our guidance and vice versa. The newly emerged designers are innovative and particularly open to hearing ideas, but our established brands are also incredibly creative whilst having a diverse assortment to offer.
How did the 2020-2021 pandemic and lockdown year change the way people shopped?
The pandemic certainly changed our customers’ shopping habits, resulting in a more conscious approach to buying and a high desire to shop for seasonless investment pieces that can retain their value and stand the test of time. We are also more mindful in terms of our own health and the planet’s health, which has been reflected in the increase in NET-A-PORTER shoppers who are purchasing labels with notable sustainability credentials, such as those falling within our dedicated NET SUSTAIN edit. In addition, customers are really taking into account labels that are inclusive and drive activations for the common good, including charity initiatives.
During the pandemic our Loungewear, Lifestyle and Beauty categories saw a surge in popularity as customers were spending more time at home and they developed a more relaxed sense of style. Whilst they continue to perform exceptionally well for us, we are also seeing a significant demand for bright, bold and optimistic styling as our customers embrace the theme of ‘Joyful Dressing’ due to more socialising and events.
Lots of brands and companies have spoken about having to adapt quickly, and many of these changes have been surprisingly positive. Are there elements of the past year that you will take adopt in your activities going forward?
We have always been responsive to our customers’ demands, adapting our buys and wider business strategy to reflect new shopping behaviours, however the pandemic amplified this, and we had to adjust much quicker than before. Additionally, we had to find a ‘new normal’ within both our everyday personal and working lives, including the way we approach Fashion Month with limited travel and attending buying appointments virtually whilst working from home. At first these shifts were daunting and almost didn’t seem feasible, but now we have experienced this new way of working it’s almost a positive and more sustainable change that can endure, as long as the industry collectively stands by it.
The good news is we have seen a positive change emerge, with a huge focus on togetherness and this sense of community whereby the fashion industry is coming together to support businesses however big or small (independent and emerging brands in particular) whilst celebrating inclusivity, diversity and sustainability.
NET-A-PORTER is an industry leader at the forefront of trends and new fashion the world over. How do you keep your offering fresh and relevant? It must require a lot of innovation and creativity from all sides, at all times!
There is now a huge need to focus on wider cultural movements across the world to remain current and relevant and it’s now all about shopping with a purpose. We are really committed to a more positive, supportive and sustainable future and NET SUSTAIN and our mentorship program, The Vanguard, are examples of the work we are doing as a business to set an example and drive the industry forward. This involves working closely with brands to offer our expertise and advise on how to keep up with the latest demands and pressures, which in turn results in incredible collections that tick all boxes for NET-A-PORTER.
You often work with actors, musicians and other cultural figures across your content and platforms. How do you choose who to work with to communicate the NET-A-PORTER brand ethos?
We look to work with tastemakers who share our values and are motivated to make a positive change, figures who have a clear positioning authority in the industry or those who spark engaging cultural conversations. Of course, we are continuously working with incredible, talented women globally, and female empowerment will always be key for NET-A-PORTER.
#TheNETWORK, is our dedicated community of Incredible Women that we work with who help bring our core mission to life, by bringing joy through the mood-lifting and transformative power of fashion.