It’s interesting to hear Moda Operandi is using its sponsorship of next week’s annual Costume Institute’s Met Gala in New York – a foremost date on the fashion calendar – to attempt to monetise the red carpet.
The luxury e-tailer, which started out as a site selling looks straight off the runway, will be making both dresses and accessories worn at the ball available for purchase on its site from the next day. According to Mashable, 10 pieces (in total) from designers including Rodarte, Nina Ricci and Wes Gordon, will be on sale for one week.
This strikes a chord on the one hand – surely there’s a huge market of people wanting to buy looks immediately off the backs of their favourite celebs after they’ve worn them? Ahh, but then you remember the price tag: $5,000, $10,000, $30,000 for the average Met Gala look? Not so conducive to the average online shopper.
But then this is Moda Operandi, the upper echelons of luxury; run, no less, by a team that The Wall Street Journal recently referred to as “society 3.0”. Its customers already spend an average of $1,500 per transaction, with a record single order of $90,000.
There was a great piece about said luxury consumers in The Guardian recently too: “A new breed of fashion obsessed ‘supercustomer’ is challenging retailers’ assumptions about the maximum sums that can be spent at the click of a mouse. Luxury online retailer Net-a-Porter.com is preparing to sell its most expensive ever item – a dress with a pricetag of £32,000. Six of the embellished red dresses by Italian label Dolce & Gabanna have been ordered by Net-a-Porter’s buyers – and the online boutique is confident that all will sell,” it reads.
Ultimately therefore, what all is that different about these pieces from Moda other than the fact they’ve got the kudos of (hopefully) a topnotch A-list star, and if rumours are anything to go by on who wears what, also Anna Wintour’s seal of approval?
As Elizabeth Paton questions on the FT’s Material World blog however: “For starters, are the Moda Operandi A-list clientele – aka women who can drop between $5-50,000 on a single purchase – really the types to be sitting in watching a video live stream on a Tuesday night? I doubt it and imagine (though of course can’t predict) that the sales figures will reflect this.”
She continues: “Secondly, some industry figures say that the ‘celebrity factor’ holds less clout with the 0.1% elite than with the rest of the 99.9% luxury buying masses. In Vanessa’s post-Oscars blog in February, the chief executive of one haute joaillerie brand told her that customers after the really expensive pieces often told staff specifically that they only wanted jewellery that have never been worn before, or even photographed on someone else, which meant they ended up keeping their most exclusive product firmly under wraps. That is to say, in the very upper echelons of luxury spending, there’s no value added from the ‘who wore what’ factor – if anything, it can detract.”
Whether it therefore works next week will remain to be seen. According to Moda’s director of ready-to-wear, Indre Rockefeller, however, a previous similar attempt has already been successful. Apparently the $4,695 Prabal Gurung dress actress Jennifer Lawrence wore to the LA premiere of The Hunger Games, and a dress she wore by the same designer to the 2013 Critics’ Choice Awards were both offered on the site. They attracted interest domestically and internationally, particularly in areas that don’t have access to retail environments that carry those designers, she told Mashable.
So let’s face it, even if just one or two of the items sell post Met Gala, at those sort of prices it’ll be a worthwhile return on extra investment, if not for the additional publicity it will also generate, which is, after all, the entire point of their sponsorship.
Note: The Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition is open to the public from May 9 until August 14. Moda Operandi is also releasing a capsule collection on May 2 tied to the punk theme, as shown in the video below.