LONDON — Net-a-porter is gearing up for fall 2021, the first “post-pandemic season,” and wants to encourage women to dress up again with an array of exclusives, up-and-coming talent and bright, upbeat fashion.
Lea Cranfield, the retailer’s new chief buying and merchandising officer, said the company has been evolving its vision to adjust to a new normal centered around sustainability and longevity.
Part of this new strategy will include a renewed focus on the retailer’s top-end luxury offering, with more runway pieces and wider assortments of top brands in the luxury realm, be it heritage names like Bottega Veneta and Saint Laurent or younger ones like Khaite.
Addressing big topics like diversity and inclusion through its buys remains a priority, with a broader range of sizes soon to become available on the platform. The e-tailer will continue to develop programs such as the Vanguard, which supports up-and-coming designers, and Net Sustain, which highlights responsible fashion.
In response to longer-term lifestyle changes incurred by the pandemic, Net is expanding its scope beyond fashion with a yearlong online gift shop and its new homeware category, which launched in November — and has since tripled in size.
Later this month, tabletop will be added to the mix, followed by new home launches from the likes of JW Anderson, Khaite and Bernadette.
As far as fashion is concerned, Net is banking on customers’ growing appetite for optimism in the form of bright colors, mini silhouettes and loud patterns by the likes of Loewe, Saint Laurent, Magda Butrym, and newcomers such as Maximilian and Meryll Rogge, a Dries Van Noten alumna.
Customers have already been buying into the trend since the beginning of 2021, moving away from loungewear and toward bright dresses — a silver Oscar de la Renta gown costing more than 10,000 pounds was an unlikely lockdown success.
In the same upbeat spirit, the retailer is embracing over-the-top outerwear and buying into Loewe’s fall 2021 larger-than-life coats, Khaite’s sexy puffers and Chloé’s puffer-poncho hybrids.
Gabriela Hearst’s Chloé debut was a particular hit with the Net team, which has secured an exclusive pre-launch of key runway pieces for fall and will be highlighting everything from outerwear to knit dresses, bags and the label’s footwear collaboration with Moon Boots.
A number of new names, which stood out for their artisanal flair, will also be coming on board for fall. Some highlights include LVMH Prize finalists AGR and Lukhanyo Mdingi, as well as Rave Review, which will launch an exclusive capsule for the retailer.
Athleisure, and all things sporty, are also here to stay and Net is planning to offer an array of high-low dressing options to ease customers back into dressing up.
“Think leisure, but always elevated,” said the retailer’s senior market editor Libby Page, pointing to designers like Stella McCartney, Givenchy and Isabel Marant, which have incorporated sporty elements into their runway collections for fall, as well as fashion and sports collaborations from the likes of Wales Bonner and Adidas; New Balance and Casablanca, or Wardrobe NYC and Carhartt.
“The fashion and sport connectivity isn’t going anywhere. It’s a really clever way for brands to produce accessibly priced product that still feels relevant and elevated,” Page said.
There will also be a stronger focus on sports, with expansion into dedicated dance, yoga and tennis clothing. Key launches include cycling brand Rapha and an exclusive tennis capsule from swimwear label Marysia.
With all the excitement of a new season and a new world, Net is still paying attention to brand classics and the trend-free, investment-worthy items that caught a lot more attention as a result of the pandemic.
Everyday basics from the likes of Loro Piana and Brunello Cucinelli, forever pieces such as Saint Laurent coats, and classic bag styles from the likes of Chloé and Loewe are some of the key fall 2021 pieces.
“The idea is seasonless pieces that will last one, two or even ten seasons and help customers create the ultimate capsule wardrobe. Women are still looking for timeless pieces, we were seeing it then and we’re still seeing it now,” said Net’s fashion director Kay Barron.