If you live in Tokyo, you can stop reading here. Everyone else might be interested to read about my online shopping experiences… The first part is for newbies, the second for more experienced online shoppers.
1. You’ve heard of net-a-porter.com before, but you can’t remember exactly what it is? You’re a beginner:
I don’t understand why I still get the look every time I answer: “This? I ordered it online.” Online shopping still seems to be reserved for couch potatoes or other pitiable people who don’t have the time to go to the mall. It also kind of revives that old flair of ordering via catalogue – you call, they deliver. If it’s crap, you call them up again and they come and pick it up.
First, I’m not a couch potato, but indeed I’m always a little short of time. Secondly, many things I need or want are not available in the retail stores – shoes in size 35, many Japanese and Belgium designers… And last but not least, I don’t like Dubai’s shopping malls: Who needs five Louis Vuitton flagships? Who needs a Harvey Nichols and a Bloomingdales full of unfriendly sales staff, who have no clue of anything.
Recently at Balenciaga: I ask for a pair of shoes in my size – 35. He (I don’t know why they still hire male assistants, who really don’t have any idea of women’s clothing) comes back with a size 39. “Try it, it runs a little small I think.” Or at the jeweller: I need my ring to be altered. He takes my size – ok, no problem. When I come to pick the ring up I can already see from far away: This ring would not even fit a baby’s finger (seriously, I’m not exaggerating) – but the ‘goldsmith’ still insists I should try it on at least. I almost freaked out – “give me a magnifier”, I wanted to scream. What went wrong? There were two kinds of sizing on the jeweller’s scale – the European and the American… Can you guess what had happened? Seriously, I’ve rarely had a pleasant shopping experience in Dubai in almost five years.
After all that crap – I’d rather return something I’ve ordered online than get upset about the stupidity of the sales personal. Quite the contrary: Depending on the online shop, the customer service is extremely helpful, friendly and fast. Some stores send a handwritten note with your order, most of them have beautiful packaging… It’s a pleasure. OK, you don’t get your items ‘right here, right now’. You have to be patient and wait for the UPS, DHL or FedEx guy to deliver the parcel. But once it’s there, you can take your time to try the item on, combine it with your clothes – and if it doesn’t fit or is not up to your expectations, you send the store a message, get a return number, arrange a pick-up appointment with the store’s appointed courier service and send it back. Some stores offer free returns, and some charge the return shipping costs. But you can avoid returns if you order a brand you already know (so you know their sizing and their quality in general = no bad surprises).
2. If you’ve already ordered online and need more sources and inspiration – this is for you, the experienced online shopper. And these are my favourites:
Superfast and reliable…
My Theresa – carries many ‘It-designers’, has a beautiful packaging and adds goodies like notepad + pen.
Matches Fashion – as for the brands: they carry, as My Theresa, the usual suspects; the packaging is beautiful, too. Their shipment arrived after three days, which I didn’t experience with any other online store.
Totokaelo – definitely the best online store when it comes to presenting their items. They have a model combining different pieces, and on their website you can interact with other clients and exchange opinions or give advice. It gives the store a very personal touch. Their packaging is also beautiful. Another advantage: They carry brands and designers you don’t get everywhere. Inspiring!
Departement Feminin – They carry only a handful of designers in their online store, very high-end. But what I really love about them – they give you the feeling that they really care: I was once in touch with them regarding an item – half a year later, they contacted me again, saying that they ‘remembered’ (I know it’s in their system – but still…) my interest in a certain designer and asking if they could reserve anything for me from that particular designer. I emailed back and forth with the customer service woman, who was really sweet. I felt that she was excited about the products they sell.
LN-CC – apart from the fact that they carry so many of my favourite designers, they are fast and reliable. (And they’ve got the perfect model to present their clothes!)
Net-a-porter – you’re in good hands.
I also like Browns and Colette, but mainly for the brands and products they’ve got available. Their service is comparable to Net-a-porter – nothing exciting, but reliable.
Here is a list of online boutiques I’ve already ordered from:
I’ve had two disappointing experiences yet. If you want to know more – give me your email.
Do you know any other good designer online stores? Share your experiences!