|Me, Emily Johnston, with My-Wardrobe’s founder Sarah Curran…lounging at the Ritz in Dubai.|
Whether you follow Fashion Foie Gras on Facebook, Twitter or simply sign in every morning here, you’ll clearly be aware of the fact that for the past five days I’ve been over in Dubai with the lovely ladies of My-Wardrobe. From attending fabulous parties to riding the backs of camels, it’s been a non stop adventure. However, where you go is all about who you are with and this week I had the great pleasure in getting to know the founder of My-Wardrobe, Sarah Curran.
Shopping online these days I find that most companies are judged first and foremost by the homepage for their site. From there you dig further into the online experience and one finds that you’re entire digital shopping spree with a brand is based on website functionality and clever artwork. So when given the opportunity to meet with the person that put one of the top luxury sites into action, I jumped at the chance. And now, after having spent a great deal of time with My-Wardrobe’s Sarah Curran I find myself even more in love with a website I already held in such high regard. Let’s just say I was offered the kool aid and now I won’t be drinking much else.
Sarah’s passion for the site and for style and high quality products is absolutely contagious. Her work ethic also seems to be second to none as there is a certain drive with Sarah Curran that I have only discovered with a handful of other women in this business. I suppose the best way to put it is that there seems to be no limit to her dreams for My-Wardrobe and she’s definitely out there tackling them with both hands. Which is of course why we were both sitting in Dubai together.
This was a trip that was focused on the launch of My-Wardrobe in the Middle East. Yes, they are expanding and it was quite the reception in Dubai as hundreds of guests gathered to welcome My-Wardrobe into the luxury fold. But that’s another story to tell entirely, and don’t worry we’ll get to that. But before we do, I sat down and had an “official on the record” conversation with Sarah to share with you guys a little bit more about the company and what we can expect moving forward… so here we go… a quick interview with Sarah Curran of My-Wardrobe.
Let’s cover some background first… What’s the quick story behind My-Wardrobe?
Before launching my-wardrobe in April 2006, I owned a boutique in North London called Powder. We focused on offering a unique edit of the ready-to-wear, shoes, bags and accessories collections of the diffusion, sister and second lines of the luxury designers as well as the more affordable international brands. The customer experience was key for me when it came to the knowledgeable style advisors, the comfortable, well-lit changing rooms, the packaging and the product itself.
Shortly after moving to France with my family and trying to access my favourite designers online I realised that there was a gap in the market for what I offered with Powder. There was an assumption that consumers either shopped online for main line designers such Chloe and Stella McCartney or fast high street fashion, but in fact I knew that there was a huge appetite for the more accessible ‘everyday luxury’ designer fashion.
We launched my-wardrobe.com in April 2006 and within three months it was outperforming Powder, so we moved back to London and sold our boutique to focus on my-wardrobe.com. We launched my-wardrobe.com menswear in 2009 and have just launched our Middle East office along with one in Sydney and Oslo. I always believed from day one that my-wardrobe.com had the potential to be a globally-recognised brand and to see those plans come to fruition is extremely rewarding for all of the team.
At the moment who is your average customer?
The my-wardrobe customer is aged between 27-47, is ever-increasingly time poor and shops in the seams of their life and today more and more from their mobile. The edit of the collections is key our shopper. We spend a lot of time behind the scenes editing the ready-to-wear, shoes, bags and accessories collections of our designers to create a fabulous edit of must-have pieces that have that all importantly wearability.
My Wardrobe not only caters to women but also carries men’s fashion. Are you finding men are closet online shop-a-holics? London men seem to always be complaining about shopping but continually step out looking so dapper… surely My-Wardrobe must be their secret shopping haven…
Ever since we launched my-wardrobe menswear in 2009, it’s been amazing to watch our menswear shopping community grow. Men have incredible loyalty and when they find somewhere that they trust and that has their favourite brands then they stay. The menswear online market is still incredibly young, but is growing fast and has huge growth potential, so it’s a very exciting place to be as a retailer where we can shape how consumers shop. As you say men tend to dislike shopping and they were the early online adopters whether for media, gaming or music, so married together makes online the ultimate shopping route for them.
In the past few months My Wardrobe has seen great expansion around the globe including where we are sitting today in Dubai. Can you explain your thinking behind expanding in these locations?
I always believed that my-wardrobe.com could be a globally-recognised brand and despite seeing phenomenal organic international sales growth, I wanted to ensure that we launched the brand properly internationally, ensuring a local experience wherever the customer was in the world. We have seen exceptional growth in the US, but I believed we had a huge opportunity to grow the brand in emerging markets, Australia, Scandinavia and the Middle East, which is where we are today. Within each of these new markets there is already an appetite for the designers that we offer and online itself. Particularly here in the Middle East it’s exciting to see the role that social media plays.
Will you be carrying all the same brands for Middle Eastern buyers and will you be looking at including new and upcoming designers locally on the site?
We have spent the last few seasons introducing new designers to my-wardrobe which have a strong following across the Middle East. We are currently working with a select number of designers to create exclusive collaborations for the Middle Eastern shoppers next season, which is very exciting.
The my-wardrobe.com buyers are always looking at new designers that fit our international customer base.
Any future expansion plans you can talk about? Or anything new and exciting coming up for My Wardrobe?
Our focus is on the international expansion of my-wardrobe. I have always believed my-wardrobe could be a globally recognised brand and we are working very closely with representatives in each market to ensure that the launch is as localised as possible. It’s not just about a blanket ‘one size fits all’ approach, it’s about looking at each market individually and working with a local partner who understands the consumer, culture, media landscape and can create a locally-specific offer in terms of currency, payment and shipping options.
We have very big plans for the global expansion of the business over the next five years, which include exciting designer collaborations, technological innovations and the continuation of our pop-up VIP shopping events around the world.
A massive thanks to Sarah Curran and the whole My-Wardrobe team from the fashion goose!
Photography courtesy of Olivia Halvorsen Photography