Alison Loehnis: "The initial idea for Net-a-Sporter only came about six months ago"
An interview with Net-A-Porter's President
The role of President at the Net-a-Porter group is one of great power. 'Power' being the operative word here, when the online giant – the world leader in luxury fashion e-commerce, is set to launch a dedicated sports-themed division, affectionately titled 'Net-a-Sporter'.
Step up Alison Loehnis, who after joining the company in 2007 as sales and marketing VP, is now its leader – a job that encompasses heading up, "all worldwide advertising campaigns, overseeing global public relations, strategic partnerships, personal shopping, visual merchandising, customer service, creative and editorial, including all onsite content and taking responsibility of buying as well as a central responsibility for finance, operations, IT, mobile and publishing alongside the other members of the executive team..." – Responsibilities that provide a verbal work out simply in description.
Buro 24/7 Middle East takes a much-needed sit down with the fashion and retail power player to find out more.
- How long have you been discussing Net-a-sporter?
The initial idea for Net-a-Sporter only came about six months ago. We already carried some great activewear brands, such as Adidas by Stella McCartney, Lucas Hugh and Nike and we wanted to build on our offering and broaden our buy to create a dedicated category for sport.
- Why activewear? What is interesting about sportswear for a luxury e-commerce platform?
We did a lot of research with our customer base and discovered that there is an increasing desire for all things fitness-related and that women across the world are becoming more and more active. Net-a-Sporter is a mixture of accessible and luxury sports brands and it was important to us from the beginning that the pieces themselves were not only performance-based but that they could also be incorporated into our customers' personal style. We also know that a lot of women are exercising and heading straight from their yoga or ballet class to breakfast with friends without changing. With this in mind, we have developed a category called 'après sport' designed for those who want to look incredibly stylish after their workout.
we have developed a category called 'après sport' designed for those who want to look incredibly stylish after their workout
- Which brands are you most excited about?
Net-a-Sporter launched with 16 brands that tap into 11 sporting categories including tennis, golf, equestrian, run, gym and cross fit, yoga and dance, swim and surf, sail, outdoor, ski and après sport. I'm really excited to see our customers' reaction to L'Etoile Sport, Monreal London, Weargrace, Liforme, Ballet Beautiful, Live The Process, Nike, Bodyism, Laain and Jawbone as these are new to Net-a-Porter.com. We've collaborated with Lisa Marie Fernandez and Zimmermann to produce exclusive capsule collections designed especially for our customer and we're the exclusive online stockist for Live The Process, Ballet Beautiful, Laain and Weargrace.
- Why now? What's the driving force behind its launch for Summer 2014?
The lifestyle trend is the zeitgeist of the moment – there has been a noticeable emergence of the fitness movement over the past couple of years and active wear has been growing. We spotted a gap in the market for being a one-stop shop for workout wear where fashion meets function and where performance and style are equally valued, so we didn't hesitate with our launch!
Which brands and pieces are doing well in terms of sales so far?
Everything is performing incredibly well, particularly brands that are part of our largest categories – run and gym and cross-fit. These categories are the greatest area of exercise our customers partake in so we've made sure was reflected in the Net-a-Sporter buy.
- Who's your muse when you are buying for net-a-sporter?
She's our existing customer. Women are spending more of their leisure time in sportswear so active wear is becoming an essential part of their wardrobe. There's also the woman who is seeking a contemporary yet compelling performance-based offering and Net-a-Sporter caters to this. Every brand we pick up has to have a point of difference – so we always look for this along with fabrications and style. If pieces look good, they're technical and performance-based then we know our customer will love them.
- What else do you have in the works for Net-a-Sporter?
Our ski brands will be launching before the end of the year and we'll continue to collaborate with brands to create exclusive collections. Our buy team will continue to scour the globe for the most stylish, functional sports brands to ensure Net-a-Sporter remains a differentiator and offers our customers in over 170 countries something unique.