E-commerce or web shopping is a concept that has gained much momentum in the last decade or so. It was in existence before, but not with such tour de force. I have been a web shopper for more than a decade and absolutely love the wide array of products available at my disposal, the quietude of the shopping experience without dealing with throngs of shoppers or a sales person whose sole goal is to emit a plastic smile and push an item on me which blatantly does not suit me, fit me or flatter me in any shape or form.
I also love the diversity of web shopping. Can you imagine with the power of web shopping we can browse products from the very talented designers of any country in the world and purvey their designs. I especially love sites that showcase designers from countries such as Sweden, Germany and Denmark. I have found them to be trend-defying with eclectic sensibilities.
For example, if you want to buy true class products from India and want to forego the tacky Buddha mural and the shimmery kurtas (long tunics) ubiquitous on all India related websites, Exclusively.In is a free membership site offering clothes, art, jewelry, shoes etc. from established and unconventional Indian designers. So, without buying a ticket to India from makemytrip.com, you can buy your favorite jutti (embroidered babouche.)
Today I want to share with you my compilation of over a decade. The web sites that I have tried and tested and have never been disappointed:
Mytheresa -A cutting edge, global web site, carrying the most current designs from designers such as Lanvin, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten, Alexander McQueen and Marni. The coolest part is you will have to pick the country you are in before starting the global shopping experience.
Polyvore -Carries a huge selection of current trends and links to thousands of other web sites. You may simply get lost in the jargon of a utopian never-to-return land!
Barneys –A diverse web site fit for the hi-low dressing concept. A “lifestyle” site if you may. The variety ranges from dresses fit for watching the Black Swan at English National Ballet in London to a stroll in Central Park sipping on hot buttered rum in a Styrofoam cup. From Cacharel to Chloe, from James Perse to J Brand, they have it all!
Opening Ceremony -An avant garde website showcasing progressive indie designs of Chloe Sevigny and Rachel Comey. A true success story of clicks to bricks.
Moscot-I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to discuss my most coveted web site for the hippest, retro, bohemian, yet ultra-modern eyeglasses worn by the likes of Johnny Depp. Opened in 1925 as a family business in NYC, it has a history that adds value to the eyewear. On your next trip to NYC, a visit to the store located at 118 Orchard Street is a unique experience to experience the meeting of the two worlds, retro and modern. For those of you who make “cerebral” style as their signature (such as the manrepeller,) a pair of reading glasses from this quaint NYC store is a must.
Pearlriver -If you love anything from China (who doesn’t and if you don’t in today’s commerce you better as you have no choice) then this is the site for you. It carries all things Chinese without getting kitschy. I love the Mao jackets from the men’s section. Also, the brocade wrapped sandalwood and bee flower soaps can be a unique gift for a friend. Chinese slippers to putter around the house and wonderful comic book inspired stuffed toys, great not only for children but used as throws on the couch to add the punch of color. The website is frequently updated with new knick-knacks.
CreaturesofComfort -Another successful example of a site that went from clicks to bricks in L.A. and NYC. With Japanese designers such as Tsumori Chisato and Acne on their roster, it is a delight to shop.
Net-a-Porter -Can a web shopping list be complete without a mention to this iconic website that has styles stocked straight from the runway. They have a great app for the iPad for all iPad users. And the best exchange/return policy.
Of course, as is the rule of nature all that is good goes hand in hand with some bad. So, the main caveats and red-flags to keep in mind while web shopping are as follows:
*Shop from a trusted web site. All the web sites I have provided are reputable and are secure. Look for the secure symbol in the payment page.
*The web site should be fast-loading otherwise the whole blissful shopping experience is ruined. All the web sites I have provided appear to have their own servers and are fast loading.
*Be familiar with the return/exchange policy of the vendor. Net-a-porter has the most customer friendly staff available and are ready and willing to help. In fact, when I call them, I feel I am part of the NY fashion world as they are so cultured.
*You MUST be size savvy. Depending upon the origin of the website, the sizes are stated in different measurement standards. The size numbers are different in Europe, U.S., Italy, Japan etc. For example an Italian size 38 is roughly equivalent to a U.S. size 2. Don’t go by the chart conversion as it is misleading. The pictures are very accurate and give you an idea whether it is a fitted garment or loose flowing. For example, if it is an extremely form fitted dress, I might want to go a size larger so that I can breathe. Shoes can be tricky, Louboutin’s usually run one size small. If you have shopped the brand before, just use that size. Easy peezy!
*My most important tip! Make sure you read the fabric composition details. I am allergic to wool, so even a 10% “Lana” component will make my skin cringe as if a porcupine rubbed its quills all over me.
*Enlarge the photo of the item you are buying and view it with a 360 degree view. There are times when I love the dress from the front, but when I turn it around there is a huge bow at the back. Sorry not for me, no need for extra volume in the back!
So, my friends rise, turn on the kettle to make the steaming cup of Danesi coffee, cuddle up in the super-soft blanket and turn on the iPad! Buon divertimento!