I couldn't get over the irony of this quote from Giorgio Armani in todays WWD, which announced Emporio Armani's upcoming e-commerce launch in the United States
"In the last seven years, I have seen mounting enthusiasm for online fashion shopping in the United States through the growing success we have had with our A|X Armani Exchange site," Armani said. "Over this same period I have also observed the increasing sophistication of fashion consumers shopping online, which has encouraged me to develop this new site for my Emporio Armani lifestyle."
Seven years! This is a remarkably long time for a reputed business genius to finally see the opportunity in selling luxury and fashion online to customers beyond his teeny-bopper A|X customers. In the meantime, Dior, Gucci and Coach have all discovered that an online store rapidly becomes one of the top (if not the top) store in a brand's store network.
Even then, at least he now really does understand the benefits of this bold move:
"There are many attributes of an e-commerce store that I find especially appealing: the ease with which we can change the merchandise offerings; the instant information we receive on the way customers are shopping on the site, [and] the fact that the collection can now be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to so many people who have not had access to one of my stores in the past."
Mr. Armani has been a pioneer in this industry, so it is surprising that he has been so slow off the mark this time. From a creative standpoint he revolutionised fashion in the 70's with his deconstructed, pared down suits that have now become the norm in offices around the world. He was also one of the first (and still only one of a few) designers to successfully extend his brand across numerous categories and pricepoints without diluting or destroying his it (Armani Exchange, Armani Casa, Emporio Armani, Armani Collezioni, Armani Black Label, Armani Privé, etc).
But when Mr. Armani goes for something, albeit a bit late, he apparently goes for it full on. Along with the Emporio Armani ecommerce site, a replica of his via Manzoni megastore will be launched in the virtual world of A Second Life, complete with an Armani avatar, overseeing all the details, just like Mr. Armani does in real life. One detail he got right this time was to work with external experts in the space, like Yoox, who are powering the "shop online" portion of the site.
The Emporio Armani site will have a soft launch on August 14, followed by an official launch in September with an interview of Mr. Armani on a major online portal. The Emporio site will only be available to U.S. residents -- European and Asian residents will have to be patient and wait until at least next year.
Photoclip courtesy of WWD