Match­es­fash­ion.com’s Ex­pe­ri­en­tial Home Pays Off

WWD Digital Daily - - News - BY

Match­es­fash­ion goes off-line and in-per­son with 5 Car­los Place.

Ul­ric Jerome, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Match­es­fash­ion.com, re­vealed the dig­i­tal re­tailer's ideas sur­round­ing re­tail and e-com­merce in the wan­ing days of 2018.

His mes­sage could have been summed up in three words: 5 Car­los Place, the fivestory, 7,000-square-foot ex­pe­ri­en­tial town house that opened in Septem­ber in the tony May­fair sec­tion of Lon­don. House in a circa 1900 for­mer res­i­dence, 5 Car­los Place is clearly not only a phys­i­cal shop­ping space. Jerome said the town house is much more than the sum of its parts, which in­clude re­tail, per­sonal shop­ping, be­spoke, cul­tural events and broad­cast­ing.

The house that Match­es­fash­ion.com built has been en­gi­neered for dis­cov­ery, whether it's a new de­signer or brand, in­ter­est­ing young chef or one with a Miche­lin star. “'The In­no­va­tors' pro­gram has a fo­cus on trail­blaz­ing ac­tiv­ity in the de­signer mar­ket,” Jerome said, adding that the idea is to fea­ture a mix of es­tab­lished and emerg­ing brands. Space at the house is given over to events that sup­port the de­sign­ers and ed­u­cate con­sumers about why Match­es­fash­ion.com chose the var­i­ous tal­ents. “[Cus­tomers] un­der­stand there's a real ed­i­to­rial point of view,” he said. “Even the mu­sic at 5 Car­los Place is cu­rated.”

Jerome de­scribed how 5 Car­los Place has be­come in­ter­twined with its up­per-crust neigh­bor­hood, which borders on Mount Street, and how the town house has been en­thu­si­as­ti­cally em­braced by con­sumers, who act as am­bas­sadors for the ad­dress, post­ing pho­tos on so­cial me­dia.

“The cus­tomers re­ally love not only fash­ion, but re­tail, and the phys­i­cal space where they're go­ing to shop,” Jerome said. “We hired an ar­chi­tect who un­der­stood and wanted to cre­ate his­tory. Don't for­get, we have a dot-com af­ter our name.”

Match­es­fash­ion.com uses 5 Car­los Place for next-gen­er­a­tion global events. Prior to open­ing the res­i­dence, Jerome said the e-tailer would take over clients' homes and pent­houses. “We said, ‘Why can't we cre­ate events in a mod­u­lar way,'” he said.

“We do be­spoke by ap­point­ment in our pri­vate shop­ping suite,” Jerome added. “We have a 90 per­cent re­ten­tion rate. It's all about a per­sonal, in­ti­mate mo­ment and per­son­al­iza­tion.”

Match­es­fash­ion.com has amor­tized the cost of op­er­at­ing the lo­ca­tion by “us­ing the space to reach mil­lions of peo­ple,” Jerome said, re­fer­ring to mo­bile and dig­i­tal. Dur­ing 2018, the house hosted more than 39 events, wel­comed 3,000 guests, un­veiled five pop-up cafes and cre­ated 10 brand in­stal­la­tions.

For ex­am­ple, the house re­cently un­veiled an in­stal­la­tion by Saloni on the top floor of 5 Car­los Place. Jerome said Saloni was cho­sen for its col­or­ful de­signs. “The brand in­stal­la­tion is very vis­ual ev­ery time we launch one. We fea­ture a new brand ev­ery seven to 10 days,” Jerome said.

Brands must pass Match­es­fash­ion's req­ui­site screen­ing process. “We cre­ated our own code of con­duct,” Jerome said. “We ask brands to fill out a sur­vey so we know where they're com­ing from.”

While 5 Car­los Place is steeped in his­tory, it's also filled with tech­nol­ogy, but

“we don't be­lieve in in-your-face tech­nol­ogy,” Jerome said. “It's not in­tru­sive at all. We have in­tel­li­gent tech­nol­ogy that pro­vides a per­son­al­ized cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence with all the al­go­rithms built thor­ough ma­chine learn­ing and AI.

“The sales staff uses tech­nol­ogy only to max­i­mize the best con­ver­sa­tion with the cus­tomer,” Jerome said. Cus­tomers sign in upon ar­rival by scan­ning a bar code at the re­cep­tion desk, which no­ti­fies the team of their ar­rival. They re­ceive a tour of 5 Car­los Place be­fore go­ing to one of the shop­ping suites, which has been filled with any items they choose, plus other pieces, se­lected us­ing data gath­ered from wish lists, on­line bas­kets and pur­chase his­tory.

Items that aren't avail­able for pur­chase on-site can be or­dered on the Match­es­fash­ion app. Us­ing the 90-minute de­liv­ery ser­vice, the prod­uct can be sent to the town house for pick-up or to the cus­tomer's ad­dress.

The most im­por­tant met­ric is con­sumers who visit 5 Car­los Place's con­tent place or­ders that are 33 per­cent larger, Jerome said, adding that 77 per­cent of those who en­gage with 5 Car­los Place con­tent are

re­turn­ing vis­i­tors. Match­es­fash­ion's av­er­age or­der value is $729.

With two-thirds of Match­es­fash­ion.com traf­fic com­ing through mo­bile, Jerome couldn't over­state the im­por­tance of so­cial me­dia. And 5 Car­los Place lends it­self to the type of drama that plays out on web sites and mo­bile apps.

“Con­sumers can watch and lis­ten to ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing in that house,” Jerome said. Call it a more so­phis­ti­cated and fash­ion­able ver­sion of “Big Brother.”

“We em­brace the dig­i­tal op­por­tu­nity of so­cial me­dia,” Jerome said. “Our cus­tomer's be­hav­ior changes so fast, but so does fash­ion. The best way to deal with this is to lis­ten and see what the cus­tomer does, and lis­ten­ing on so­cial me­dia is the best way.”

“We cre­ated the web site and cre­ated the app so that ev­ery­one can watch and lis­ten to ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing in the house,” Jerome said. “The idea is to de­moc­ra­tize lux­ury.” Still, Jerome noted that the white front door of the town house doesn't have a street num­ber.

The Match­es­fash­ion.com's 5 Car­los Place mi­cro- site in­vites vis­i­tors to check out the house floor-by-floor. The fifth floor is re­served for pod­casts, with re­cent record­ings by Alexa Chung, Sa­muel Ross, de­signer and founder of streetwear brand A- Cold-Wall, and Skye Gyn­gell, a food writer who earned a Miche­lin star. Floor num­ber four is de­voted to film and video. On of­fer is a quickie film by Mario Sor­renti, who re­veals the best gift he's re­ceived and his fa­vorite photo shoot to date. “We had a book sign­ing with Mario Sor­renti and Kate Moss,” Jerome said. “In the last eight weeks, we pro­duced al­most 40 events.”

The third floor is de­voted to pri­vate shop­ping with the site list­ing all the ben­e­fits of book­ing a pri­vate suite, from get­ting the first look at col­lec­tions ex­clu­sive to Match­es­fash­ion.com to the abil­ity of stylists to se­cure sought-af­ter prod­ucts.

Events take place on the sec­ond floor. That's where the Miche­lin-starred chef of Lon­don's River Cafe, Ruth Rogers, will hold an in­ti­mate mas­ter cook­ery class on Nov. 21. Co­in­cid­ing with the launch of the Sneaker Stu­dio at 5 Car­los Place on Nov. 26, a ded­i­cated in­stal­la­tion will show­case ex­clu­sive trainer styles from Chloé, Fendi and Jil San­der for women, and Acne Stu­dios, Ey­tys and Is­abel Marant for men.

If some as­pects of 5 Car­los Place seem fa­mil­iar, it's be­cause the com­pany in­tro­duced ver­sions be­fore the town house opened. Match­es­fash­ion.com tested, it­er­ated and per­fected its De­sign­ers Talks event, which made its first ap­pear­ance dur­ing its over­seas res­i­dences and fea­tured Zan­dra Rhodes shar­ing her in­spi­ra­tion from the Sev­en­ties. Re­cently, Le­an­dra Me­dine Co­hen, founder of the Man Re­peller, was fea­tured at the town house in con­ver­sa­tion with ed­i­tors from new me­dia plat­forms such as Tank and High Sno­bi­ety. The dis­cus­sion was live-streamed on the Match­es­fash­ion.com web site.

Not ev­ery­thing that passes through 5 Car­los Place's doors has a con­nec­tion to fash­ion. The Artist's Bed­room by John Booth for House of Voltaire pairs the artist and de­signer John Booth with the non­profit art and de­sign store House of Voltaire, to cre­ate Booth's dream teenage bed­room at the town house. The im­mer­sive in­stal­la­tion, where ev­ery­thing is avail­able for pur­chase, fea­tures a hand-painted bed, ceramic side ta­bles, rugs, mir­rors and even an em­broi­dered sweat­shirt ca­su­ally draped on a chair.

Later this month, Gucci Decor will takeover 5 Car­los Place's per­sonal shop­ping suites, in­stalling its col­or­ful fur­ni­ture and dec­o­ra­tive home prod­ucts with un­ex­pected el­e­ments such as an eye star­ing out from a vase, a chair em­broi­dered with the face of a tiger or a me­tal tray with a Kingsnake painted in the cen­ter.

Whether Jerome ad­mits it or not, the phys­i­cal 5 Car­los Place re­mains ex­clu­sive and out-of-reach to the ma­jor­ity of Match­es­fash­ion.com con­sumers who don't live in Lon­don or plan to travel there. With the on­line and dig­i­tal re­tailer's broad­cast­ing hub at the town house in full swing, Match­es­fash­ion.com is pro­duc­ing cre­ative con­tent that it will con­tinue to per­son­al­ize and it­er­ate upon un­til it gives re­mote con­sumers an ex­pe­ri­ence that more closely re­flects 5 Car­los Place.

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