In a move that’s simultaneously surprising and exciting, online retail giant Zappos announced Monday that its latest hire is none other than Andre Leon Talley, who is coming on board as Zappos Couture’s artistic director. The former Vogue editor — and current Número Russia editor-at-large — is beloved inside the fashion circles (and inside the Fashionista office) for his larger-than-life personality, his penchant for telling it like it is and, obviously, his bold taste.
While Zappos traffics in moderately priced, contemporary brands, Zappos Couture is the company’s high-end site which is building an impressive roster of brands, including Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs. However, many of these labels are only selling small portions of their collections to Zappos Couture so far — accessories and lingerie, for example — and in a competitive online space for ready-to-wear with sites like Net-A-Porter and Shopbop poised as its main competitors, the site has a long way to go. But that’s where Talley comes in.
Marc Beckman, the founder and CEO of Designers Management Agency who helped to broker Talley’s partnership with Zappos, tells us that Zappos Couture is in for a major makeover on the content front, with a special section of the website solely dedicated to Talley that will be very specific to his vision. “We’re looking to really push the digital retail marketplace forward in a compelling way, with superior content surrounding the luxury sector,” Beckman said. “Talley will play a lead role in setting the overall look, feel and tone of the platform, as well as dictate what brands will be featured.” The editor will be in charge of curating and cultivating content from season to season and from week to week, pushing original content.
While Talley will not be involved in the buying for the site, his presence will be appealing to luxury brands. And while Zappos probably could have chosen any high-profile fashion fixture or celebrity to head the site, Talley was the first choice all along. “There are not a lot of people who can do this — if we put a celebrity on it, we are not giving the consumer a pure editorial voice,” Beckman said. “After three decades in the luxury sector, he can make an impact globally. The following that he has is huge, and we want to build on that momentum.”
With only a few e-commerce companies that have achieved serious success on the content side as well, Zappos is banking on Talley’s extensive knowledge, editorial experience and relationships in the luxury fashion space to bring new life to Zappos Couture. We can’t wait to see what he brings to his first foray into the world of digital.