The first time I heard about Net-a-Porter it was just a name. My brief was to create and launch an online shop for a fashion brand that didn’t exist.
I discussed this with Megan Quinn (one of the founders) over a burger. ‘We can create a digital Nike Town shopping experience, where your customers are empowered to breathe the brand at every touch-point or we can create a C&A shopping experience without brand values that in the end it just disappears’. Our idea was ‘to create not just a shop, but a shop that is also a magazine, that is a shop. A place where visitors can even interact with the fashion designer and get inspiration from the source before they buy the garments’. ‘The site could have a magazine format with the shop at the core but also include style updates, interviews, videos, trends and catwalk tips’. Megan and Melanie Messenet, former editor of fashion magazine Tatler, loved our idea from the start.
My task then was to create the brand values and tone of voice needed to define the user journey, the user interface and brand experience to work across all media. I’ve always believed these are joined at the hip, and Net-a-Porter’s decision to keep our website unchanged for over 10 years is a testament to the timeless and usable design that we created at Uovo, which finally received a Webby Honoree award in 2011.
As Head of Art and Concept Director I was lucky to work with an excellent mix of creatives, designers, developers and UX experts; Nick Wiles, Andy Nightingale, Dan Branigan, Dean Taylor, Sean Joyce, Nick Wolf, Aleks Marinkovic, David Ashford and Carol Davies (sorry if I missed anyone).
As we got on with the job, we didn’t know we were creating a major global brand regarded as the UK’s most successful fashion e-tailers, one the world’s top 50 websites by Time Magazine in 2008, and an investors dream that went from £800k initial investment, into a valuation worth £600M (75,000% ROI July 2012).