A few days ago LS reported on the growing interest luxury companies are showing in the male market, and now the Net-a-Porter group has announced that they are launching Mr. Porter, a site dedicated to designer menswear.
The group hopes to launch Mr Porter—the first retail destination of its kind, for the spring/summer 2011 season. The site will carry an edited collection from a combination of household names and niche brands including Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Margiela, Margaret Howell, John Lobb and Rick Owens.
The biggest anticipated markets are the U.S. and the U.K., followed by Germany and the Far East.
Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet proved she was unafraid of a challenge when she established her business ten years ago to the day. Earlier this year she sold here remaining stake in Net-a-Porter to Richemont for £50 million ($73m), but has since remained active in the business as executive chairman.
The success of the womenswear site has been partly down to well-edited buying, confidence in niche, emerging brands, almost unparalleled customer service and a clever merging of editorial and sales content. Good teams will be crucial to replicating this success with Mr Porter —a recruitment drive is set to begin for an initial team of around 35 experts who specialise in the male market.
Speaking about Mr Porter, it was interesting to note the emphasis the female entrepreneur placed on the current, female Net-a-Porter consumer base:“ We have always said that Net-a-Porter will remain a woman’s brand and now we are ready to create a dedicated men’s shopping destination…We have a ready-made customer base for our men’s business. 100% of our customers have a man in their lives in some capacity and 59% of them are married or living with their partners. Three million unique users trust and love our service and will be invited to make a purchase for the men in their lives.”
Men, who Massenet admitted “[mostly] don’t like shopping”, but who are at the heart of the new business were almost an afterthought: “Additionally we look forward to welcoming a new group of super stylish men who join us to shop for themselves with the same level of service, dedication and commitment that women have had for the last decade.”
The group evidently feel that there are opportunities to be seized in the male luxury market, but they will still be relying on women to do a sizeable chunk of the purchasing.
Apparently saksfifthavenue.com, barneys.com and neimanmarcus.com, in addition to niche, focused and regional Web sites in the U.K. and the U.S. are being viewed as the main competition.
Although the company already owns the domain names Petit-a-porter and Net-a-Beaute, Massenet did not want to commit to any moves into the childrenswear or beauty market: “We want to focus on menswear now. We’ve talked about doing a children’s space, but we want to do it properly.”