Moda Operandi, the site that brought us the online trunk show--allowing shoppers to buy looks hot off the runway--has had stratospheric success since it launched back in February 2011 with its unique sales model. And it's about to get bigger and even more innovative.
Moda Operandi just announced that it received a round of funding to the tune of $36 million. Condé Nast, a previous investor, threw some money at the company again, as did LVMH and IMG for the first time. Think about the possibilities: Helmed by co-founders Aslaug Magnusdottir (formerly of Gilt Groupe) and Lauren Santo Domingo (formerly of Vogue) and armed with investments from some fashion business heavy-hitters, the online retailer is perfectly positioned to change the way people shop for fashion.
So what exactly is the company going to do with this round of financing? We spoke to Magnusdottir about the company's plans, and the answer was sort of surprising:
Moda is launching traditional e-commerce (well, they're calling it "in-season buying.")
"It's been something that's been in the back of our minds from the beginning," Magnusdottir told us. "We see this as a way of servicing our customers in a better way, whether for pre-order or if they have last-minute needs." The in-season offerings are going to be curated from among 40 of their core designers and will include seasonal runway looks as well as more "commercial" items that the site doesn't usually sell.
This puts them head-to-head with other luxury e-tailers like Net-a-Porter, but Moda Operandi has access to some insider information that more traditional retail sites don't. Because shoppers can order items right after they see them on the runway, MO has incredible data about which pieces are the most popular--we're pretty sure Bergdorf et al, would love to get their hands on that data. Pieces will then be ordered accordingly for the "in-season" buys. "We'll be making very focused buys," Magnusdottir said.
To support this new component, which launches in November with resort collections, the site is going to be making a lot of new hires, including buyers, merchandising planners, logistics and quality control people, as well as more customer service and technology staff to support a beefed-up website. Extensive editorial support for the retail side will continue, and that team is still led by Taylor Tomasi Hill, who's the site's artistic director, with Nina Garcia in an advisory role. The site will hire more writers, but Magnusdottir didn't dish about any marquee glossy expats that may or may not be heading their way (still, we're sure it'll happen so watch this space).
If you're a shopper on MO--or a browser/drooler, like us--you may have noticed that the membership model no longer exists. A rep for the site explained that in the beginning it gave designers a level of comfort (sort of like a virtual fire wall) because they weren't used to people looking so closely at their collections so soon after a runway show. But now that they've seen the merits of the pre-sale model--ka-ching!--any person off the street can shop there now. Assuming you have the coin, that is.
Moda Operandi will continue to operate mainly in the luxury arena. As Magnusdottir noted, "US stats from last year showed more growth in the full price luxury sector rather than in discount luxury." While they've introduced some contemporary lines, expect the wares to still cause a bit of sticker shock. "Our focus is as a luxury player," Magnusdottir confirmed.
Will you be shopping Moda Operandi in its new incarnation?