Online Shopping. Finally Getting Recognition! Second City Style Fashion Blog

December 28, 2006 • Fashion

Hejfina in Chicago

Finally WWD is recognizing the power and success of online shopping. Lucky covered this topic in last month’s issues. In fact, all the same stores were mentioned. You might also notice that this blog has had them posted in our favorite shopping sites for a long time!

Shopping online is now as routine as walking into a store, so it’s only
natural the virtual world has begun to mirror the real one. There
are now dozens of small online boutiques competing with more
established and bigger names like Girlshop, Net-a-Porter, Shopbop and eLUXURY. All are helping to raise the profile of cutting-edge
and little-known designers internationally.

Some of the sites specialize in obscure designers. Many are the online
branches of real-world stores. A surprising number mirror the look of
Shopbop, which was bought by Amazon earlier this year, and carry many
of the same contemporary mainstays, such as Vince, Generra, Velvet and

Typically, a small boutique that opens an online
store can expect to generate about $300,000 in revenue the first year,
said store owners. Once it is established, revenues of $500,000 to $1
million are about average, particularly for the more commercial
ventures. In many cases, an online store equals a physical store in
revenue, but draws customers from around the globe.

Here are some of the more unusual better newcomers.


Chicago store opened its online shop in March after being
deluged with inquiries from people outside the area. Most of its Web
sales now come from Southern California and the New York metropolitan
area. The Web store stocks a passel of
inventive, frolicsome frocks that would not be out of place at a
big-city art opening. Designers include Isabel Marant, Alice Ritter and
Alexander Herchcovitch
. (Yeah Chicago!)


La Garconne

spare, beautifully designed site has girlish Mod outfits carefully
selected from high-quality labels such as Swedish jeans maker Cheap
Monday, Vanessa Bruno
and cashmere specialists Lutz & Patmos. The
online-only store opened in 2005 and is based in Fairfield, Conn., but
ships globally. Shipping is free on orders over $100.

Creatures of Comfort

Los Angeles store favors sculptural clothing paired with playful shoes,
such as fuzzy rubber flats from Melissa Green. Owner and buyer Jade Lai
opened her online store last May to give more exposure to
difficult-to-find designers such as United Bamboo, Vena Cava and Carson

"It is beneficial for both the store and customers who are looking for the hard-to-find designers," she said.

She plans to introduce her own line this spring.


online-only store opened its doors for business in 2000. Its name,
pronounced black, means just that in Old English. Its unusual interface
is designed to look like store windows, with mannequins wearing outfits
in each one.

A click on an individual item brings up information
about and a bigger photo of the piece. The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based
boutique used to specialize in resources from nearby Los Angeles, but
now owner Jodi McMillen hunts for fresh labels from all over the world.
She plans to carry KA7, the much-anticipated new collection from
Katayone Adeli when it is available in February. Other labels include
Gray Ant, Catherine Malandrino, 3.1 by Phillip Lim, Kenneth Jay Lane
and Sass & Bide.


Brooklyn boutique run by two former stylists and designers, Jeff
Madalena and Louis Terline, has been on a tear, opening a store in
Williamsburg in 2004, then in Park Slope last year, and an online
outpost this year. The concept for all three stores is the same and
changes every season.

Currently, the look is spare and simple,
with mostly black and white pieces from such resources as Opening
Ceremony, Veena
and jewelry designers Alex + Chloe. For spring, Oak
will break out prints and color.



San Francisco boutique opened its online store last year after tourists
who had shopped at the Hayes Street unit kept calling to reorder. The
Web site now accounts for half the company’s revenues and does a
significant business in organic beauty products (the real-world store
has a nail salon in the back) and also offers a full line of See by
and high-waisted jeans from Gray Ant. Plans are to relaunch the
site in March under the name Tobi (a much-loved customer) and add a
section for organic and sustainable clothes, such as Levi’s green Eco

The Web site’s Lookbook section shows shoppers how to put together an
outfit and every online buyer is automatically assigned a personal
stylist who offers advice on how to wear each purchased item. Shipping
is free for orders over $100 and occasional promotions offering free
shipping outside the U.S. have won many overseas customers, said
co-owner Catherine Chow.


offshoot of the year-old West Hollywood boutique, this cute and funky
online store has a front page featuring a collage. Owners and
cousins Marni Flans and Bari Milken opened the e-tailing site in June
because "online shopping has become huge," as Flans put it. "People
don’t want to leave the house."

The online shop leans toward
retro-inspired clothes in soft colors from such lines as Christopher
Deane, Sue Stemp, American Retro
and Sretsis.


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One Response to Online Shopping. Finally Getting Recognition! Second City Style Fashion Blog

  1. Karen Parker says:

    I was thrilled to see you talk so highly about online stores. Personally, I have bought many beautiful clothing pieces at and have never been disappointed. They seem to always be up with the latest high end pieces that are very hard to find.

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