Online shopping has come a long way since the demise of doomed fashion retail website www.boo.com in 2000. Back then few believed web-based luxury had a future. Ten years on, and international online luxury behemoths www.net-a-porter.com and www.yoox.com each mark a full decade in business with triumphant figures: every month three million people log on to Net-a-Porter, while Yoox operates in seven languages, delivers to 67 countries, and reported a net revenue of €152.2m last year, up 50 per cent from 2008. According to business consultants Bain & Co, global luxury sales online grew 20 per cent to €3.6bn in 2009 and the increase looks set to continue. The following are among the best global websites for fashion-savvy online shoppers:
As Seen on Screen launched in the same year as Yoox and Net-a-Porter and has achieved similar success: it announced a pre-tax profit of £20.3m in the year to March 31. Labels include Urban Mobility by Hussein Chalayan and its own haute-couture inspired Black collection.
The digital arm of the designer boutique has the same emphasis on sophisticated luxury, including a Diane von Furstenberg shop-within-a-shop.
Named after a 1920s Austrian couture tailor, this high-end vintage fashion and jewellery site stocks pristine Chanel, YSL and Pucci classics from the 1960s and 1970s.
Stocking limited-edition, crafty pieces, including Anish Kapoor cufflinks, this is the place for reworked vintage pieces by the likes of Valentino and Hermès.
Championing emerging jewellery design, products range from Made by Eugene’s £16 silver whistles, the Victoria Ring by Sho (£3,120) and a £37,630 Four Seasons bangle with oval cut diamonds.
The online version of the Como boutique offers a range of international collections, including the edgy Tramando and Kartell rubber shoes by Normaluisa.
A haven for directional fashion, this site’s strong on harder-to-find labels, such as leather by Todd Lynn, and exclusive collaborations with brands such as Dior Homme, Gareth Pugh and Viktor & Rolf.
Sleek and pleasurable to navigate, despite the menacing music on arrival, the focus of this portal is on goth-tinged luxury. Labels include Balmain and Rick Owens.
Another online version of a cult store, here novelty meets high fashion with plenty of chic exclusive-to-Colette collaborations, such as Karl Lagerfeld’s diamanté-encrusted white leather gloves.
“Unconventional luxury” is how Paris-based designer Maria Luisa describes the store’s online style, with her own label on sale next to Christopher Kane, Martin Margiela and RM by Roland Mouret.
The destination for women’s designer heels. Standouts include Versace’s block-colour boots and Giuseppe Zanotti’s zipped multi-strap sandals for Balmain.
The men’s shop at Neiman Marcus online has a strong line of designer casualwear, from Loro Piana to Zegna Sport and Etro.
This hip vintage site is the kind fashion editors stalk for insider labels, including 1980s Bodymap, Yohji Yamamoto tunics, and Azzedine Alaïa dresses.
The online equivalent of the Hawaiian store includes heavyweights Ann Demeulemeester and Comme des Garçons as well as its own label, launched this year.
An umbrella site for artisans, Etsy is the perfect expression of the design zeitgeist: products include handmade, small-scaled production items from knitwear to paper.
The place for shoes spotted on the catwalk. The homepage shows the stock as it first appeared – on the runways of Rick Owens, Marni and more.
The online version of the Japanese department store is strong on beauty, accessories and men’s wear. Labels to look out for include Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers and Julius.
European brands dominate this spirited website, including Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Miu Miu. A favourite portal for aspirational Japanese twenty- and thirty-somethings.
This shopping “resort” explores a virtual Tokyo, inviting customers to click on the exteriors of buildings and open the doors to major Japanese brands such as Beams and United Arrows.
This high fashion Indian website is invitation only – although it’s easy enough to request one. The site is a great barometer of the Indian fashion scene, stocking evening wear by Rohit Bal and Satya Paul’s embellished saris and bridal wear.
The online sibling to Boutique 1’s Dubai and Beirut flagships, this is one of the best fashion resources in the Middle East. Includes Azzedine Alaïa, Phillip Lim and Diane von Furstenberg (Diane von Furstenberg Luxe sandals, £113).
A retail champion and cheerleader for contemporary Arabic design, much of the work is from young designers and the site invites unknowns to step forward with designs.
The digital arm of a Lebanese style empire, Aïshti online includes homeware as well as high-end fashion, but chooses to stock lesser exposed international labels, including Twenty Cluny and Haute Hippie.
Dia sees itself as “the gateway to Middle Eastern chic”. The stock is quirky and unique and its online magazine touches on art subjects that chime well with the designs.