When is luxury not luxury? Apparently when it's online. A recent Guardian article discussed the recent move online by the FT's How to Spend It Magazine. The article queried whether the launch of a luxury site was in-keeping with the current global mood, while the FT insisted that watches, yachts and "below the radar florists" were all part of the "flight to quality" by discerning consumers. Timely or not, the one thing no-one pointed out was the quality of the new site. Like so many other luxury sites, at first glance HTSI is another Flash-based disappointment. Discussing the topic with my friend, the Social Media Guru, we both agreed that Net-a-Porter was the only user-friendly place on the net to conjure true aspiration. Vogue's online presence, Style.com, is a muddled mess, whilest Burberry completely missed the whole idea of 'exclusivity' by allowing the general public (!) to live stream and comment on a recent Fashion Week show.
This only leads me to conclude that luxury brands have approached the Internet as an after-thought. At a time when people are embarrassed to be seen in-store splurging on high-end goods, these brands should be 100% focused on creating an online presence which replicate the in-store environment. Luxury brands are at the forefront in curating inspiring, memorable and decadent retail experiences and there is no reason why the brand's extension online should not feel just as personal and unique.