Friday, 11 June 2010

ASOS, Zara, Mr Porter and Mr Hare

lots of fashion news over the past two days which racked my interest and got me thinking. so here are four little pieces of fashion bits and bob:

left: umbro england away long sleeve shirt, £40 /
right: retro notch detail sunglasses, £12 /

1. asos reported 44% rise in profits
in what is considered to be a difficult and challenging year for retailers, asos posted a set of spectacular financial results: a 44% rise in profits to £20m, and 35% increase in sales to £233m for year ended 31 march 2010. interestingly, non UK sales increased by 118%, revealing their efforts to break into the international market.

fashion moves at a rapid pace. i always believe that people do not simply stop shopping because we are in a recession, but we choose more wisely, we consider more factors, we research. fast fashion retailers should do well as the nature of the business requires them to adapt rapidly to changing consumer tastes. i've previously waxed lyrical about them, why i believe in them as a business. i even bought shares in them.

asos plc share price from june 2009 to 2010

and how's my investment looking? the gravity defying share price closed at £7.17, yielding me a 20% return on my investment a little over a month ago. future plans of asos include opening a dedicated US site from september 2010, and an ambitious sales target of £1 billion within five years. i am definitely not selling my shares for now.

as a little treat, i shall get myself... that pair of retro notch detail sunglasses which has been on my wishlist for a while. £12, surely i deserve a treat. and perhaps the red football shirt, to support england at tomorrow's world cup!

zara menswear june 2010 lookbook /

2. zara's parent company reported 63% increase in net profits
inditex, the company which owns zara, massimo dutti etc reported a 63% increase in net profits in the first 3 months of 2010. they generated €2.67 billion worth of sales in the first 3 months. impressive much? with 5,000 stores across 77 countries, inditex is now officially the world's biggest clothing retailer.

although massimo dutti is the higher priced range, crown jewel of the group belongs to zara. i believe the success of zara lies in it's appeal to the age group: the young working professionals with a high level of disposable income. their famous inventory turnaround, 2 weeks from drawing board to production to shop floor, enables them to quickly react to any shifts in consumer tastes (or to be "quickly inspired" by what's on the runway).

as a consumer, i buy quite a few pieces from zara, and i like the no frills shopping environment they offer. come september, zara will introduce online shopping across several countries, uk included.

3. net-a-porter group announces launch of dedicated menswear site:
be afraid, be very afraid. lock up your credit cards, hide under your duvet, it's here! back in april when i analysed net-a-porter's sale to swiss conglomerate richemont SA, i noted that the online retailer still has massive potential for growth, including the possible expansion of their offerings to include menswear. boy how right was i? richemont bought into the future of net-a-porter, not just the present. the menswear site is something that most expected for a long time, and certainly a consideration for richemont to value the online retailer at £350m back in april.

slated to "open" in january 2011 with offerings from spring 2011 collections, they will stock pieces from over 60 designers: balmain, lanvin, ysl, john lobb, MR by roland mouret etc. mirroring net-a-porter's concept, mr porter will offer same day delivery in london and manhattan (same day gratification for me!), and express delivery for the rest of the world.

what does this mean for some of the other online retailers?

- i don't think asos would be much affected by mr porter. the latter's product mix is much more high end. in fact, i think asos will benefit from it. the launch of mr porter could bring about an increase in online spending for men, thereby indirectly benefiting asos.

- they positioned themselves between asos and net-a-porter in terms of products price range. i doubt they will be affected much but again could benefit from the increase in online shopping awareness for menswear.

- a dedicated menswear online retailer, based in london. it seems that mr porter will be in direct competition. although oki-ni do stock somewhat more mainstream and commercial pieces from margiela and mcqueen, i believe their strength lies in the selection of edgy, avant garde and upcoming designers. i doubt their stocklists will overlap much.

- another dedicated menswear online retailer, based in paris. it seems that with the introduction of mr porter, another dedicated menswear online retailer, it could be one too many. but again, i don't think their stocklists will overlap much. studiohomme represents a fairly niche group of critically acclaimed designers, less edgy than oki-ni's selection but also less "conglomerate-ish". think pierre hardy, barnabe hardy, christophe lemaire, alexis mabille etc.

-,, i am very interested to see how these 3 retailers would react to the news. in terms of products offering, mr porter's stocklist should closely resemble theirs. net-a-porter's success lies within the ease of use of their site and their unparalleled choices (they were the first to stock isabel marant online). with a bigger shopping budget than their competitors, i believe mr porter will stock a very interesting range. but i don't see why they can't co-exist. harvey nichols and harrods are literally a stone throw distance away in knightsbridge, and both have a similar designer rota. but i believe the fashion buyers do speak to one another, and try to carry different pieces from the same designer. it's a win win situation for all.

and then there are bricks and mortar retailers with an online shop attached, like matchesfashion, browns, aloharag. i believe mr porter will also stock similar labels. thing is, if it works for womenswear and they co-existed for so long, will it really make a difference for menswear? the pie is undoubtedly smaller though.

am i weird to think about such things when most are just thrilled with the news of mr porter?

4. my new shoes: mr hare!
from mr porter, we move on to mr hare. yes i bought a pair of new shoes on wednesday. shocking, shopping midweek?! mr hare is one of the most exciting designers to emerge from london right now. more on his shoes later when i get the chance to take pics of my new shoes.

one of my investment, one of my favourite store, soon to be one of my favourite new store, one of my favourite shoe designer. l00o00ve all round!



  1. thanks as always for an excellently-written piece. i love zara and i am beginning to love asos

  2. Mr. Hare in my opinion has some of the best looking mens shoes. Stylish with a vintage, updated look, amazing attention to detail. I have yet to come across a pair I didn't start drooling over. Very snappy.
    snappy x


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