We promise, this is not an April Fool's joke. Chanel, one of the last fashion brands standing that does not offer e-commerce on products other than cosmetics — and which has long defended its decision to refrain from allowing customers to shop its high-end wares online — has apparently decided to get with the times.
Bruno Pavlovsky, the French luxury house's president of fashion, told WWD Monday that it plans to launch e-commerce in some form by the end of next year. Details as to what will be offered — and how — are scarce. The company also plans to launch e-commerce sites for milliner Maison Michel, Barrie Knitwear and glove-maker Causse alongside its own. "We are testing the approach," he told Bridget Foley. Reps for Chanel could not be reached for comment.
Chanel is one of a small group of luxury brands that has strategically not allowed anything aside from licensed products like sunglasses, cosmetics, skincare and fragrances to be sold online (not even through other retailers), though more and more brands are starting to come around — Fendi most recently.
The house has given vague reasoning for its own reluctance: “Fashion is about clothing, and clothing you need to see, to feel, to understand,” Pavlovksy told Bloomberg in 2013. It's also a luxury brand, and a hallmark of luxury is exclusivity. But it's also probably more strategic than that. In Chanel's case, most of its revenue comes from those licensed products, so it's not necessarily worth it to make ready-to-wear available online when the customer base for it is so small.
When Chanel does launch e-commerce, it's probably going to be in a very special, controlled way. We'll be watching.