Barney’s Designer Mailer Online Catalogue

with 4 comments


Are store websites a little too boring to browse to your liking? Do you miss that editorial fashion fantasy that magazines thrive upon and yet website miss upon? Fear no more, there seems to be a new trend emerging on fashion websites.

I’ve been store surfing online looking at the latest holiday collections and came upon Barneys‘ site. Although I seldomly have browsed there, I did noticed that they’ve added a new shoppable editorial magazine. Most websites will have commercial photo shoots of a model wearing the item on sale, however the relationship between viewer and photo is sort of cold and generic in my opinion. Fashion editorials, on the other hand, are highly stylized with different accessories and contain more elaborate backgrounds. They weave a fantasy of eye candy that makes potential shoppers go “oooh…now that’s pretty, and I want it.”

cocorocha2This format of catalogue shopping through editorials is relatively new from what I’ve seen of store websites. Barneys has picked up on the idea and launched their version of it called “Designer Mailer“. This holiday season, Canadian model Coco Rocha is splashed across the catalogue on every page. Whether in Flash or HTML  version, users can mouseover certain items that can be directly purchased online. The slightly disadvantaging point is that most of the items sold are accessories like shoes, bracelets, necklaces and bags. Some of the big ticket items like an L’Wren Scott dress are not available online, and can only be found in certain stores. A shame because for me in an editorial, I’d want to have the chance to purchase everything that I see. Call it online boutique hotel-style shopping.

I’m not sure if many shoppers are like me, but my desire to purchase depends greatly on how great the mannequins or models are dressed. I like being in a store where there are styled mannequins. It’s enough to send me finding the exact thing I see. Montreal, alongside Tokyo, in general has very attractive mannequin displays, especially at Simons. I can be sold on a look in seconds, it really doesn’t take much.

Online beauty stores can also apply this method of shopping by allowing users to mouse over a model’s face and imagine buying the very products that they’re looking at. They usually give credits in magazines as to what exactly a model is wearing, but you’d have to dig through the end of the magazine for that. An online beauty store could ideally benefit from this ease of purchase.

Certainly this is an interesting approach from Barneys, but they would need to work on refining the editorial shop just to make it a little more user-friendly. One advantage over Net-a-porter is having real physical stores in several locations (unfortunately only across America). I think The Gap & co. could use this kind of online business model as they have several brands and they could need the boost. I expect to see similar editorial shops to pop up in the near future.

Image credit: Barneys’ website

Written by Dahlia

November 22, 2008 at 3:08 am

4 Responses

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  1. Speaking of Barney’s, I came across an article about their online strategy in Fast Company a while ago. Kind of interesting read.


    Jay Watts III

    November 24, 2008 at 5:34 pm

  2. Thanks for the link Jay! It’s interesting you sent me this as I actually work in the email marketing business as well, so I totally get what Proclivity aims for when they send email campaigns to Barneys’ customers. The more targeted their campaigns are to clients, the more customers will be willing to click on the ad and even better when it’s in their field of interests.

    I also suggest looking at Spam Meltdown’s analysis on a few email marketing campaigns by Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales. I tried contacting them about that, but never got a response (unfortunately). Still something worthwhile to check out eventhough they’ve stopped updating the site.


    I think aside from shoppable e-zines, email marketing could be one of the next waves that advertisers will turn to instead of print advertising. It’s cost effective and they can reach thousands of people at a time with targeted ads. If the company can target their email campaigns accurately (even better if they can predict trends like Proclivity), it can play a significant part in revenue.

    If I received email blasts as good as Bergdorf’s for sure I’d always be opening my emails and clicking away. The more activity you get on your emails, the more chances you are to get a direct sale from them. So it’s important to make the pitch in the first 3 seconds they open their emails in order to convert. Ahh, a whole other world in marketing 🙂


    November 24, 2008 at 11:04 pm

  3. The Club Monaco mailing list follows a similar design, though as far as I can tell it’s not targeted, and the same with Ideeli (who don’t ship to Canada, don’t sell men’s stuff, but I subscribe to anyway – just to look at the images, really!).

    For retailers like Club Monaco, though, I think not targeting your e-mails can lead to frustrating situations for subscribers. A lot of times the stipulation “at participating stores only” is appended to a message about a sale, which makes that message seem more like junk mail if the subscriber happens to live in a city with a non-participating store.

    For me, I really think it is about targeting e-mail ad campaigns. I know that sometimes I’ve wound up on a mailing list (which I didn’t sign up for) that seems to vaguely be aware of my demographic data, but isn’t really what I’m interested in, and I consider it spam.

    Jay Watts III

    November 25, 2008 at 10:44 am

  4. I used to subscribe to Ideeli, but I figured that I don’t have a matching salary to buy designer goods on a regular basis, so I unsubscribed.

    Unfortunately in the business, many people buy lists of subscribers collected from other sites. It’s very important for you to read the fine print when you subscribe yourself to a site. They always have these pre-checked boxes to receive emails from third party companies (bad practice). Be aware of sites that don’t display a link to a privacy policy, terms & conditions, and also a list of the third party companies who could be using your email to solicit ads.

    Such carelessness of companies who don’t target their emails, especially to direct subscribers, will end up wasting precious time and money.


    November 25, 2008 at 12:31 pm

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