Once upon a time in amongst the rabbit warren of London designers holed up in various parts of East London, the word "brand" was a dirty word. Along with being "commercial" and making "wearable" clothes, to be seen being ambitious and wanting to build a brand were things that the abundantly creative London fashion scene eschewed. Those days are perhaps long gone - at least for the top tier of London designers, who collectively have given London Fashion Week its rising eminence. Talking about your brand is no longer something to be embarrassed about and commercial success is of course lauded universally. When it comes to website design and digital strategy though, admittedly the established set of London designers do *she says in small voice* lag slightly behind say, their American counterparts. Not that I am saying every young designer needs an all singing and all dancing website and go all out on social media platforms because sometimes too much noise can also be unnecessary and distracting when you're just starting out. I'm primarily talking about the emerged lot in London, who could do with making a bigger shout about what they do and bringing their consumer and audience closer to their world. I hate citing this example only because I do know that Christopher Kane wants his website to be da bomb but obviously going nearly 7 years in the biz without a website is kind of astonishing. When it comes to ecommerce, London designers also by and large haven't fully explored it's potential save for the likes of House of Holland. You only have to look at across the Atlantic at 3.1 Phillip Lim, Suno, Thakoon and Proenza Schouler and more to see how own brand ecommerce is being used to their advantage.
Therefore the launch of Mary Katrantzou' s website is an interesting case study and in some ways a benchmark of a well thought out website and ecommerce. Katrantzou has had an "Work in progress" sign hanging on her domain name for a good few years now and her new site, which went live last week is well worth the wait. The quality shows as Katrantzou worked with King and Partners on the design, who incidentally have created sites for 3.1 Phillip Lim and Thakoon. Art director Ferdinando Verderi also created a compelling countdown video campaign to launch the site which saw Katrantzou's dresses rotating on a model in a digital clock. It was mesmerising and engaging and judging by social media reaction, only bolsters what is already a solid online fanbase for Katrantzou, who is an active tweeter and Insta user herself.
The actual site itself is naturally a slick affair it specific room set backgrounds created by artist Nicholas Alan Cope. They house all the sections that you now expect from an immersive experience of a designer such as an daily feed of Katrantzou happenings in Mary's World, a Tumblr-esque feed in Mary Likes, an overview of collaborative projects, beautiful imagery of her collections and most importantly and significatnly, a fully fledged ecommerce site.
Katrantzou is of course widely stocked everywhere but her prints are perfect fodder to be presented in its own realm. Here, her prints can be magnified, sold by theme and she can also create exclusive product, which she has done with a 45 piece web only collection. With sweatshirts, easy chiffon shirts and simpler dresses, Katrantzou is offering a more accessible slant to those heavily encrusted, show stopper dresses that she has become.well known for. Katrantzou has always had them in her vast sales collection but her own ecommerce site is definitely showing a wider product range than even her most ardent stockists. I tried on a selection of the web exclusives on for size and found that it was probably her easiest collection to wear on a day to day basis. Not that I object to lampshade frocks and beautiful jacquard in a chippie (remember this?) but Katrantzou's prints pack a punch all by themselves without complex silhouettes. The sweatshirts and cardis whilst simple in shape are actually my favourite pieces from the collection and really demonstrate how adept Katrantzou is at print placement. As Katrantzou continues her upward ascent in brand building, it's great to see that she finally has a well-made online presence to help her on the way.
Mary Katrantzou jacket worn with Tommy Hilfiger striped top, Comme des Garcons skirt and Miu Miu shoes
Mary Katrantzou skirt worn with Calla jumper and Stella McCartney shoes