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Net-a-Porter's Sarah Rutson Bought Into the 'Vetements Effect' Big Time for Fall

The online retailer's vice president of global buying says the streetwear influence is really resonating with customers — even at a luxury price point.
Vetements fall 2016. Photo: Imaxtree

Vetements fall 2016. Photo: Imaxtree

On Tuesday morning, Net-a-Porter's Vice President of Global Buying Sarah Rutson invited a group of editors into the retailer's sunny Fifth Avenue headquarters to present her buy for the fall 2016 season. Since joining the site in late 2014 (she was formerly the fashion director of Lane Crawford in Hong Kong), Rutson's not only amped up both Net-a-Porter's accessories and contemporary business, but she's also introduced more than 70 new brands to its roster. And come fall, she'll be able to add another big name to that list, as Prada will be available for purchase on the site for the first time ever.

What struck Rutson most about this particular Prada collection were the artfully mixed prints — something she lovingly addressed as the "Gucci impact," following Alessandro Michele's reinvention of the Italian label — and the cinched, often corseted waists, both of which are trends that she called out as being key to her fall edit. Speaking of Gucci, Rutson shared that in just one season, the brand moved up from being in the "bottom top ten" of Net-a-Porter's most popular designers to the "top three," thanks to shoppers' enthusiasm for Mr. Michele's aesthetic. Because he takes great care to include traditional house codes — interlocking Gs, bamboo detailing, horsebit hardware — while still bringing a sense of newness, Rutson believes that consumers are more willing to invest in one of Michele's pieces because their vintage vibes make them more likely to stand the test of time.

Another designer that Rutson can't get enough of is fashion's golden child Demna Gvasalia, and she's betting big on both his collections for Vetements and Balenciaga for fall. Like most retailers, Net-a-Porter is barely able to keep Vetements's cult-favorite sweatshirts 0r denim in stock, but because the site is heavily investing in the full collection (rather than just the T-shirts and jeans), Rutson hinted that it's likely not subjected to the same "maximum" buy of a few units like other stores might be. Gvasalia's first collection for Balenciaga — which Rutson said made her feel like her "head was going to explode" when it came down the runway — is also a crucial element of the Net-a-Porter edit for fall, with "puffa" jackets, deconstructed denim and chunky, block-heeled booties among the top pieces on her "must-haves" list. 

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Balenciaga fall 2016. Photo: Imaxtree

Balenciaga fall 2016. Photo: Imaxtree

It's a well-documented fact that fall 2016 was heavy on the streetwear, and Rutson predicts that oversized bombers, vintage-inspired designer denim, lug-soled boots and the aforementioned puffy coats will be big sellers — despite the hefty price tags that might accompany them. (The site is really putting its money where its mouth is on the streetwear front, as it's introducing both Off-White by Virgil Abloh and Moncler for the first time this fall, too.) In addition, Rutson was particularly fond of the graffiti-adorned pieces that Michele designed in collaboration with artist Trevor Andrew, aka "Gucci Ghost." But if that laid-back look isn't for you, don't fret: Net-a-Porter is also investing heavily in embellished pieces, rich velvet, statement sequins and sharply tailored military coats for shoppers who are more keen on dressing up once temperatures cool down.

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