A new British online retailer said it plans to corner the market in selling eclectic original luxury items from designers on the Internet.
Web site www.20ltd.com, which launched on Monday, sells only original pieces and promises the 20 items for sale at any one time are unique original editions, made in low numbers. They will never be made again and cannot be purchased anywhere else.
It is the latest in a growing trend for online sumptuous shopping and appears amid a debate in the industry over whether luxury brands can create the same feel, shopping experience and attraction for their products online as in a store.
A trawl through the sleek black site shows that it offers everything from a 40,000 pound ($78,960) limited edition Hellcat Combat motorcycle produced exclusively by Confederate to a Longchamp crocodile skin handbag for 10,000 pounds or a silver Alessi tea and coffee set for 20,000 pounds.
Managing director Jolyon Fenwick told Reuters on Thursday that 20ltd.com assembles its collections by invitation only with each brand or designer.
“The first 20 we’ve put on are fairly expensive,” he said. “You can never really be sure that someone is going to turn up and drop 20 grand online.”
But he said the 30,000-odd visits to the site since its launch, and chat on the Internet has been encouraging. A London hedge fund manager has already purchased one of every product on offer.
Fenwick said that he and co-founder Marcus Husselby had been kicking around the concept of 20ltd for a while when they uncovered research revealing that U.S. consumers with disposable income in the millions preferred to shop for luxury online.
The 20 different items available are replaced by new items when an edition sells out or when the editors decide to replace them.
The style-conscious Web site www.coolhunting.com — which bills itself as a “daily update on ideas and products in the intersection of art, design, culture and technology” — called 20ltd.com a “new concept both on and offline.”
“Defining a new luxury, the approach makes for products that avoid trends and flashiness and are available to anyone with an internet connection,” coolhunting said in a preview last week.
Sites such as www.net-a-porter.com and French site www.brandalley.com offer clothing, bags, shoes and accessories from a pool of designers, but they buy collections from designers much like up-scale department stores.
Luxury goods companies like Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany and Louis Vuitton, just to name a few, all offer some online shopping. That formula is mirrored by top end London department stores like Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Fenwick in London which offer only limited or no online shopping at all.
Eclectic London department store Liberty has a Web site under construction, but when finished this year will offer online customers the opportunity to purchase selected goods.
Paris-based www.brandalley.com and its English-language site brandalley.co.uk has up to now offered brands a way to sell off surplus end-of-season stock. But it plans to open up virtual “corners” which brands would manage themselves.
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