When it comes to online shopping, it seems that just about everything is geared towards the gals. Sure, major retailers like Gap and J. Crew have terrific websites and accommodate their male clientele just fine, but when it comes to high-end designer duds, but dudes are out of luck. Save for an incredibly small number of sites that cater to men (Oki-ni and Aloha Rag come to mind), nothing really looks out for the lazy, rich dude who just wants to shell out his dough for the latest Dries or Prada. It's sad, really.
Enter Mr. Porter. The site, which is an offshoot of the luxury ladies' retailer Net-a-porter, is positioning itself as the answer to this conundrum. Net-a-porter was founded in 2000 by former magazine editor Natalie Massenet, who took her previous experience as a fashion journalist and magazine editor and channeled it into the world of e-commerce. While many people had their doubts way back at the turn of the century ("People shopping online? No way!" they cried.) it's Massenet who is laughing now, seeing as the site now employs 500 people, averages over 2 million clicks per month and shills designer wares including Jimmy Choo shoes, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen ready-to-wear.
But what about the boys, dang nabbit? Well, as of last Friday, the company now has a boy's outlet, and we were among the first invited to take a peek. A few first thoughts: The lay-out is attractive and easy-to-use, so kudos. In a savvy move doesn't really feature models, but "real" stylish men, which is a clever way to appeal to a wide-range of guys who may not log on just to ogle models. The roster of designers being sold at the time of launch is incredibly impressive: Alexander McQueen, Balenciega, Maison Martin Margiela, Jil Sander, Junya Watanabe and Lanvin are all there (although Prada and Dries Van Noten are strangely missing, grrr!). Probably the most impressive aspect of the site, though, is its editorial slant. There is a tab called The Journal, which features news-y menswear an men's lifestyle related subjects. There is another tab titled Style Directory which features videos with designers, a "style dictionary" and images of iconic men and how to capture the essence of their style (although we've been doing that forever). There's also a section -- Wardrobe Manager -- that takes care of logistical needs like a guide to a man's essential closet staples, a wish list manager to keep track of pieces you're eyeing and has a record of everything you've bought, so you can re-order if you like. The level of execution is really amazing, it feels like an e-commerce site for a grown-up, not a teenager. There was a hole in the market for this level of sophistication and we're glad it's being filled.
So, if you've got a couple hundred bucks burning a hole in your pocket, and you're in desperate need of some new threads, head on over to Mr. Porter, he may just be your new best friend.