Interview with Co-Founders Beatrice Pang & Henri Deshays
With everyone and everything fashion related adapting to digital, it was inevitable that the lexicon of fashion design, Haute Couture, would hit the web. Part of me dreaded the day when that would happen. Unlike others, I personally have been resistant to the whole democratization of fashion through digital, especially of high fashion (Tom Ford I’m with you). How can you possibly do justice to the prestige and epitome of the fashion world? Suffice to say when I came across ModeWalk I was skeptical. However, I must tell you, my concern has subsided; through luxurious site design, UI, and intimate storytelling, their result is impressive.
Starting with the City of Light and its designers, the front page is simple yet elegant. The experience is meant to digitally facilitate window shopping a high fashion Parisian district. Scroll from left to right, hover over a logo and a larger window extends specifying product offering, from ready-to-wear, handbags, shoes, jewelry, and of course Couture. Click on a designer and you are taken to their individual boutique shop. View a collection in exquisite detail, read informative piece details, even book a fitting appointment.
Where ModeWalk really gets it right is the option in each boutique to “enter the designer’s universe” tab. Beautiful depictions of designer sketches, runway photos, and stories are displayed in a true visual editorial. There is also an option to comment to the designer as well. Now mind you, these are not “up and coming designers” that other luxury ecommerce sites tout, they are the real deal. Backgrounds including design jobs at Nina Ricci, Gianfranco Ferre, Louis Vuitton, and there are even members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
We had a chance to ask some questions to ModeWalk Co-Founder and CEO Beatrice Pang & Co-Founder and COO Henri Deshays and here’s what she had to say:
Given that you are selling Couture, it really seems as if a lot of time was taken in carefully executing the look and feel of the site (which if I may say is exceptional). How did you decide on the current layout and format?
We wanted to recreate a window shopping experience providing consumers with an insider’s view into the world of luxury fashion, from the city to the designers’ studios. Mara Behrens, our creative director and former Art Director of Harper’s Bazaar Latin America, transformed it into reality.
And are there plans are creating an even more immerse experience?
Yes, we will be adding districts in Paris that match the excitingly diversified and authentic shopping experiences, we are also adding more dynamic content (i.e. videos, virtual wardrobes) and will offer more room on the site who speak best about the designers’ universe: the designers themselves and editors.
How has the customer response been?
Very good. Customers can discover exclusive, coveted designers and their beautiful creative stories that were traditionally only available to the fashion insiders, with an online experience going so much beyond a two-dimensional catalog of products.
The customers who have purchased our products absolutely love them. We’ve received many follow-up enthusiastic letters or emails from customers who share their experiences with their products purchased from ModeWalk. They have also enjoyed the personalized styling assistance or gift advice ModeWalk offers. We always strive to offer the best customer experience, an experience with a couture touch.
For example, we are delighted to announce that for this Valentine’s Day, within the next two weeks, we are offering complimentary express shipping within the United States.
What has the designer response been?
They love it because they finally have a beautiful venue that’s perfect for sharing their universe, with their own voices, and selling their products in an online environment that enhances, and not commoditizes, the value of their craftsmanship creations.
Are all items shipped directly from ModeWalk or from the designers?
We care deeply about providing our customers with the best possible experience, which is why all of our items are shipped directly from ModeWalk, even if it sometimes mean getting it from the designer only a couple of hours before we send it to our customer. With Haute Couture, of course it’s a completely different story.
One other part of the site that I enjoy is the “Enter the Designer’s Universe” are there plans to expand on that? Such as the addition of Videos, streaming of shows etc…
You are reading our mind : )
Tell us a little bit about your Advisors and Team, from the looks of it, it is one of the strongest and most well rounded I’ve seen for a Fashion Tech start-up.
Our team combines expertise from technology industry veterans from the silicon valley to luxury fashion industry experts from Paris and New York. This combination of diverse talents has offered us a strong understanding of the luxury industry and a fresh perspective to innovate. While we have different backgrounds, the whole team shares the deep appreciation for craftsmanship traditions and the mission to offer luxury consumers worldwide an insider’s experience.
We have also been very fortunate to learn from our advisors who also see a huge opportunity to reinvent the luxury shopping experience in the digital era. For example, our advisors such as Vincent Batien who was the CEO of Louis Vuitton and now a professor teaching luxury management at HEC business school in Paris has helped us maintain the sense of intimacy and human touches. We have also learned from our advisors who have been executives at Zappos, Amazon and eBay to learn from their experience operating e-commerce businesses. Their diverse expertise have allowed us to leverage many decades of industry experiences as we build ModeWalk.
What’s the future for ModeWalk?
We are revolutionizing how consumers discover, experience and shop luxuries in the modern digital world, to bring back the essence of luxury – intimate encounters and beautiful stories. It’s truly exciting.
by Paul Fioravanti