When an international luxury fashion website (Farfetch) earns $1bn unicorn status, and an American luxury department store (Neiman Marcus) sees revenue grow, boosted by its acquisition of a German luxury retailer which trades mostly through its website (MyTheresa), both within a week this month, it’s fair to say that the lux fashion e-tail business is having a moment.
It would seem then, that Clique Chic - the first members-only, global luxury fashion e-commerce destination offering personalised services to exclusive clientele - was so en vogue when it launched earlier this March.
The site, conceived and developed by LVMH and Vogue alum Jessica Martino, translates the quality and amenities of a traditional brick and mortar luxury environment for the digital platform, delivering experiences to top customers across multiple devices.
Clique Chic is reserved for the elite - the industry’s version of the American Express Centurion program almost. Consumers answer questions about their personal style (which colours would you never wear?) and shopping habits before making it onto a waiting list for membership. Those who are invited to join receive a membership key that grants entry to the complete Clique Chic experience, which includes social interaction with their clique, customised suggestions from their own personal shopper, and access to the site’s around-the-clock concierge service. Membership is not gifted based on income, but on profile.
Martino, a seasoned marketing executive who has spent over a decade at both start-ups and globally renowned brands including online marketing at eBay, launching the NOWNESS brand for LVMH, and most recently a stint at US Vogue, founded Clique Chic on the belief that “luxury shoppers deserve luxury experiences, no matter where or how they shop.” Says Martino, “Clique Chic marries human touch with convenience in a way that didn’t previously exist in the ecommerce space. We aren’t simply making luxury products available online – we are making a true luxury shopping experience available within the digital realm.”
Unlike other luxury ecommerce sites, Clique Chic offers bespoke recommendations curated in a customer’s size, by personal shoppers, to complement her figure and match her style preferences. The site’s buyers select pieces from designers around the globe – from Derek Lam and Giambattista Valli to Maiyet and Vivienne Westwood – representing a well-edited assortment of classically stylish, rather than trend-driven, items. It aims to offer a prestige service, befitting the world’s top luxury brands and in-the-know designers, within a clean, user-friendly interface.
But with the likes of Net-a-Porter, Yoox and other successful online luxury pureplays, is there room for another?
“There’s room for differentiation,” explains Jessica Fioriti, Associate Analyst at Verdict Retail. “Like we saw with VeryExclusive, whose niche is offering 3 months' credit, there are opportunities to be different. If Clique Chic continues to market its personalisation, it will be a welcome addition to the market”. While Clique Chic focuses on women’s clothing, its social shopping functionality means members can also include the men in their life within their “clique,” making it an ideal way to shop for gifts (just peruse a member’s Wish List) as well as for oneself. There is no cost to join, and shipping/returns are free for all Clique Chic members.
Luxury brands can struggle online, where it’s challenging to replicate in-store services that ensure customers are given the utmost level of attention (Burberry for example, provides free champagne).
“Although we’re in a world that’s incredibly fashion focused, there are a lot of consumers who still appreciate customer service and aren’t confident shopping” Fioriti adds.
“Exclusive ranges and collaborations are very valuable,” Fioriti comments, but with the option to fly customers out to New York for a custom designer fur fitting (at a premium price of course), Clique chic need not worry about that.
Research conducted by Verdict retail at the end of last year suggests that online pure-plays are expected to hold a 30% share of online global luxury spend by 2020. The consultancy firm is expecting the market to more than double between now and 2020 as major brands continue to increase their range availability on the web. Verdict predicts that these pure-plays willl outpace the sector as a whole, growing 178% over the next 5 years, and reaching almost €15 bn.
Martino aims to build Clique Chic into a multilingual platform that will address the global fashion market.