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Guide

Industry leading editors about the future of fashion retail

We give you our very own E-commerce survey with MATCHESFASHION.COM’s Men’s Style Director Simon Chilvers and Farfetch’s Global Content & Style Editor Rob Nowill.

Words Konrad Olsson

SIMON CHILVERS

Why is men’s fashion growing so much right now?

— There has been a slow evolution around the idea that it’s okay for men to consume fashion since the eruption of style magazines in the 1980s. The hang ups around masculinity and fashion have gradually fallen away. Visual culture from MTV to Instagram, street style images and blogs via catwalk shows being live streamed; all these have made a massive impact on the idea of a new breed of fashionable man. Basically, the more men have seen other men engaging with clothes and fashion, the more comfortable they’ve become experimenting themselves. I would also argue that over the past decade designers have simply gotten better at making more interesting clothes for men — the gap between catwalk flash and actual stuff you want to wear has become far less extreme.

Why is it important to work with editorial content as an e‑commerce?

— Firstly you have to show customers and readers how they could wear a new shape or silhouette or trainer style. There is definitely an education piece even for the more fashion focused customer. But importantly, we can see that engagement with our content drives higher conversion in terms of sales which makes it a very important and vital component of our business.

Has your perspective on content driven e‑com‑merce changed over the last few years?

— Initially people were skeptical, and now I think they see that just because we sell the clothes doesn’t mean that we don’t have a point of view. E-commerce content is still a relatively new type of editorial and it’s continually evolving. I think people demand to see the kinds of stories, shoots, and interviews that they’d find in a weekend supplement.

E‑commerce players are doing the same service journalism as magazines. Where is the future headed for traditional media?

— There is a lot of chatter around print dying but actually I think there has been both a burst of great independent magazines and a renaissance in demand for fashion books during the past few years.

What do you think is the greatest challenge for brands when choosing what sales platforms they should be on?

— I think it is less about challenges and more about opportunities. I think the brands just have to ensure that each retail partner supports their vision, but I think these same rules have always applied with bricks and mortar retailers.

Is it important to have your own values and taste levels?

— You have to listen to the consumer and you also have to challenge them. The nature of fashion is that it changes and so do tastes, as a content team we are always looking at ways to evolve and provide new ideas of what fashion content can be.

What is the relationship between the e‑commerce and the physical stores?

— We have just opened our new five-storey townhouse in Mayfair, 5 Carlos Place. Whilst there are two floors for private shopping appointments there is also a café and two floors of gallery style retail space. We’ve hosted 43 events in the space, everything from a flower arranging class to a Prada installation. We find that the more touchpoints a customer experiences then the more loyal they become and also more likely they will convert and shop.

 

ROB NOWILL

Why is men’s fashion growing so much right now?

— It’s a cultural shift and has a lot to do with fashion becoming much more available to men. Thanks to e-commerce and social media, men are exposed to a lot more product.

Why is it important to work with editorial content as an e‑commerce?

— We have the most amazing range of luxury fashion and our content is produced to show our customers who these designers are, what they’ve created and why we’re excited by it. We also love being able to help our customers discover pieces that really help them express their individuality.

Has your perspective on content driven e‑commerce changed over the last few years?

— I think increasingly we’re seeing that the customer is savvier than ever before; they don’t need us to tell them what to wear or what the trends are, as they are seeing it through dozens of other channels. So our role is to show them something different, with a real point of view and provide them with access to that product wherever it is in the world.

E‑commerce players are doing the same service journalism like magazines. Where is the future headed for traditional media?

— I think both have value — they just have different functions for the customer. We make no secret of the fact that we are guiding our customer towards a purchase — it’s a very honest relationship between us and the customer, but equally we are very clear that we only editorially feature designers that we truly believe in.

Is it important to have your own values and taste levels?

— Yes, we have our own aesthetic and our own taste, but we don’t want to have a didactic, prescriptive approach to fashion. We want to have more of a dialogue with our customers, to allow them to explore the fashion we have and express their individuality through what they choose to buy.

Are there brands that are better equipped to be sold on e‑commerce?

— I think the smartest brands have adapted what they do to accommodate e-commerce: creating clothing with more visual impact, having a stronger digital presence, especially on social media, and listening to feedback from online stores. The world has changed and many brands are evolving with it.

What is the relationship between the e‑com‑merce and the physical stores?

— E-commerce and physical experiences are just as important: the customer should be able to choose how they interact with us. What’s most important for us is that they get the same level of inspiration and service whether they interact with us online, in stores/boutiques, on our app, or through our social media channels. It should be one experience.

Simon Chilvers & Rob Nowill.