I have been one of the very early days adopters of online shopping. In fact I suspect, I must have been one of the very first few customers to join net-a-porter’s mailing list all those 17 years ago. I had a good reason back then, it was a case or adapt or die, ok maybe not die, but let an intense passion die.
I was living in South Africa back then, a country that after years of isolation from the world due to sanctions and fierce protectionist laws cocooning its textile industry – 60% taxation on imported apparel being the norm, meant that it was not a good place for a fashion buff to land up in.
In those days, “middle class” fashion was only available from about 3 major chain stores and needless to say, it meant that the fashion pickings were grim and resulted in everyone wearing the same few good looks that everyone else was wearing.
It goes without saying that having arrived in 1990 and only being able to afford one yearly trip back home to Rio to visit my family and indulge in the wonderful panache of Brazilian fashion, I was starved.
So shopping online was a technique I mastered in the early days – in order to ensure my biggest passion’s survival.
Of course since then, things have changed. I went on to found a very successful fashion business in Johannesburg, specialising in imported Brazilian high end fashion and then later on, now in London, to launch of my own independent online boutique, which was sadly swallowed up by the online fashion giants and closed its retail doors after three years.
These very same online giants have also been changing (in my opinion, irreversibly) the way our shopping habits evolve and adapt.
The onset of Black Friday a few years ago has simultaneously been great news for the consumer who can now never pay full price for winter clothes or Christmas gifts if they don’t wish to, and the death of the smaller, independent stores.
Simple maths really: larger stores have the volume of sales that allows them to remain operational and profitable even when selling at 30-50% discounts, while smaller stores who carry less volume and therefore execute less sales, can’t cover their running and stock costs if at their most important time of the year (when it comes to sales volumes), they are having to discount in order to try to compete with the giants. Simple really.
The result is that consumers are now used to and in fact, expect discounts and promotions all year around, meaning that by the time the official “Boxing Day Sales” arrive, there is nothing good left to buy or our credit cards are too battered to cope with one more hit.
So, before the best is all gone, let me guide you through some of the most justifiable sale buys currently out there – pieces that will no doubt get the Holy Grail status of “great investment per wear”.