Papier Web

Papier Web

Yesterday's Business of Fashion piece that spoke to several major fashion PR agencies regarding their digital strategy, re-affirmed a few thing – Twitter is way important, personal relationships with journalists still matter, and that digital specialists/departments will be springing up (or already has done) at the agencies.  All very well but if we're going back to the basic notion of having a presence on the internet – the designer's website which is the first port of call for anyone stumbling upon a designer (before Twitter/Facebook etc…) – is still an area of neglect  The likes of Giles or Christopher Kane are notable examples, who STILL don't have websites ( leads you to a blog of a software developer!).  Actually it's kind of depressing that just as a general comparison, young London designers do lose out a little against their New York counterparts when it comes to engaging website design that also incorporates e-commerce.  Granted, a few are still in construction (Meadham Kirchhoff, Mary Katrantzou) and a few are also purposely kept clean-cut and perhaps slightly sterile (Richard Nicoll, Peter Pilotto – I do like their use of BIG BIG images though) for simplicity's sake.  

However as I was browsing through New York-based design agency designedmemory's portfolio as they've recently redesigned Suno's website, it struck me that websites with a highly personal graphic treatment that still conveyed all the useful bits was certainly a possibility.  This is coming from a person who used to favour perfunctory website from which I can grab images easily and get contact/bio details.  When aesthetics are balanced out with practicality as they do in designedmemory's portfolio of sites, then the possibility of selling casual browsers such as myself into the brand highly likely.  The multi-layered approach which seems to be inspired from taking the tactile elements of print and applying them to the web makes for a browsing experience that can almost be described as sumptuous.  This is probably down to designedmemory's treatment of web and print as one as they also create printed media for their clients too.  Suno's new site is a particularly seductive feat with the homepage awash with paint swabs and a print that looks like ink has been accidentally transferred from a silk screen…


The e-commerce branch of Suno's site is also lovely with a decent selection that has been presented with plenty of perspective images all in a clear layout.  Again, in general, own branded e-commerce sites also seem to be a bigger priority for American designers, exemplified by people like Proenza Schouler, who pointed out at the IFB Conference talk that having the freedom to put whatever they like up on their site meant they can occasionally bypass retailers.  I have high hopes for J.W. Anderson though who I hear is launching e-commerce soon and is someone who has been web-focused from the get go.  House of Holland also has had a head-start with his eponymous tees requiring web presence immediately. 

I envision that more and more designers will have the ability to control their spheres of sales through their websites and it's good to see that agencies like designedmemory are recognising that need as well as ensuring the practical parts are given a visually fitting treatment. 


Other designedmemory sites include Chris Benz's website



…Timo Weiland's website



As well as brands such as the ones above and The Row, Erin Featherston, designedmemory also did the site for Au Revoir Simone


The common traits between a lot of the sites that designedmemory does is a pop-up story book aesthetic that makes you want to delve into the site despite the slightly slower loading time.  I even don't mind the fact that I have to screencap some of the images to get to the collections because I'd rather see something considered unfold before you, making you want to put your browser on full screen and maybe even listen to whatever soundtrack they've got going on…


Leave a comment
  1. Aryn

    2011-04-06 at 5:20 PM

    Wow,those are really interesting layouts. This really inspires me. Thank yo for sharing!


    2011-04-06 at 6:08 PM

    didn’t really know Chrisopher Kane doesn’t even hv a website… cool and inspiring pics though!
    thanks for sharing =)

  3. gorete sousa

    2011-04-06 at 6:33 PM

    Nice Post!!! lovely
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  4. Beatrice

    2011-04-06 at 8:14 PM

    Very interesting article! Full of link…
    thank you

  5. Shini

    2011-04-06 at 9:12 PM

    You’re so right, it’s sad 🙁 I actually offered to help with Mary Katrantzou’s site just because it was such a pity that she was being mentioned EVERYWHERE after fashion week yet still didn’t have a site to represent her amazing designs…
    (the stylishly outfit of lady on the right comment above me, wtf?)

  6. Olive

    2011-04-07 at 2:44 AM

    Ah SUNO! I always love them!!

  7. sheikh abrar

    2011-04-07 at 6:28 AM

    All your posts make us more in love with you <3

  8. Danish demeanor

    2011-04-07 at 8:55 AM

    Love suno’s site – great blog

  9. Alison

    2011-04-07 at 9:49 AM

    This was a really awesome post. I always click the headlines about fashion and social media but almost every write up is I let down. I finally found what they were missing. On a side note, why did I ever give up desgin???

  10. susie_bubble

    2011-04-07 at 9:59 AM

    Shini: I think you could do AMAZING things for many designers…. DO IT DO IT….!
    Alison: Take it up again! I think what it is about these ‘buzz’ articles is that nobody really has anything concrete to say yet as they’re still wading through the ‘digital space’ or using quite generic/general terms… it takes experience and some specialist knowledge to really get to the nitty gritty and a lot of the fashion world hasn’t acquired that yet…

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  12. Itziar

    2011-04-07 at 2:16 PM

    Really great post Susie!
    I don’t usually comment, but I’ve been following your blog for about … OMG 4 years now? And the reason why I keep coming back one day and another is what I consider an almost perfect combination of an intelligent and insightful approach to fashion, inspiring and playful yet complex and thoughtful.
    I guess that what’s behind it is really hard work, love for what you do … and a great taste! So, thanks again, I hope I can continue reading you for at least … 30 years more? Hehe

  13. Swan

    2011-04-07 at 2:44 PM

    Well you know you must have tons of lurkers on entries like this. All too relevant. I’m not a big company but I’ve always had lots to say, and have been selling online for 10 years now? Yikes. The decision I had to make on building my last site was whether or not to keep a blog at the center of it, and I did. It really doesn’t seem to be the presentation of choice as you go “up the ladder”. But ladders are sort of holographic projections these days, and the path to up isn’t all that obvious, though sometimes momentarily. Being evocative and textured and just creating a place/idea that people can go is the most important. (And THEN good product presentation!) It can be a voice leading the way, text. Or as mister William Gibson says something like “You’re not buying a product, you are buying a narrative.” Lots of ways to create those narratives but the most obvious way for a larger company are those storybook sites for sure. It definitely bothers me when large companies appropriate small sellers more individual selling style. Not because I think appropriating is a no-no, it’s at the center of our culture really, but because it comes off as a bit rotten and fake. It can work but not when you pretend it’s something it isn’t.
    I still have this funny feeling though that if your product is unique, if that is possible, that that is the story. Is that ideal? I don’t know.

  14. Elizabeth

    2011-04-07 at 2:59 PM

    I don’t normally comment on posts however I felt compelled to do after reading this, I do agree with the statement, however one must understand the work that goes into launching an e-commerce site and running one. I feel I can comment on this after working for a premium handbag label and working on the re-launch of their website for months and I now work for an Independent retailer running their site.
    The cost of running an e-commerce website is high, in both money and people power. Someone needs to manage the photography, the editing of the photography, the copy for the products, the promotional imagery. Usage terms on models for things like websites can be costly, if you don’t normally run an ad campaigns or have the budgets for models, what images are you going to use? Once all this has been tackled (it is very time consuming and hard to get good quality product photographs at a reasonable cost) who then is going to manage the distribution and the customer service side of the website? Once you have customers someone then needs to manage the e-mail marketing side, and manage SEO opportunities? Most websites need a large cash injection to get off the ground, the BFC should maybe look into the e-commerce funding side of things. Without making this the dullest comment in history, the shipping costs to other countries that most courier services charge is high, many also don’t ship to certain countries due to taxes and import costs and the fabrications of some products. Some customers also purchase online then due to the fact they refuse to pay their shipping and duties taxes the goods have to be destroyed (as it is cheaper than paying to return the goods).
    E-commerce is a tough nut to crack, without the support, funding or knowledge many young designers and retailers would rather avoid the logistical nightmare that it can often be, however if you have the time and money for it, it is well worth the investment – thank you for those that stayed with me until the end!

  15. Stéphanie

    2011-04-07 at 9:29 PM

    Thanks Susie for taking time to discuss this issue. Like Itziar, i appreciate how you can write about diverse fashion issues and not only about trends. It would be great if you could write more on the fashion business 🙂

  16. susie_bubble

    2011-04-07 at 9:43 PM

    Itziar: Thanks so much!
    Swan: Thanks for the comment‚Ķ a lot of mysterious allusions there but I *THINK* I get what you’re saying. I think there is some balance between having a unique product and it selling itself and presenting/packaging it up in a way that is evocative and affable – I would say that all these designers that designedmemory have designed sites for have the goods to back up the fancy design. I’m not sure whether you’re accusing these designers as ‘large companies’ who are appropriating small sellers because by all accounts, I would say all of these designers (Timo Weiland, Suno, Lorick, Chris Benz) are still very very young and work on a very small-scale. Sure they get a decent amount of press but it can be a bit of an illusion – I know for a fact that they’re very much independent designers who are burgeoning and growing their companies very slowly and that their websites aren’t really appropriating that ‘indie’ scale but really reflecting who they are. If your comment wasn’t directed at them, then I’m sorry I jumped the gun because in general, I do agree with your comment about big companies who give off the impression of a ‘phoney’ lo-fi or ‘rustic’ quality – so many have done so already though and I don’t feel like they will backtrack because it works so well for them and people buy into that so easily‚Ķ
    Elizabeth: I’m not sure if you wanted to comment on THIS post or the next post which is actually directly about e-commerce. If you did want to comment on this post, then just to note, that I wasn’t specifically talking about young designers setting up e-commerce as I do understand all the costs that you have outlined‚Ķ.
    On Twitter, someone asked me if placing items on sale on Facebook was the way to go if they didn’t have the budget to commit to doing e-commerce (you’re 100% right about the costs‚Ķ) but I said that didn’t seem right either. It shouldn’t be something you go into for the sake of putting stuff up for sale but rather it should be something that you get right on an aesthetic and functional level, until it feels good for your brand. Suno’s site as well as Vena Cava (who I talked about in the next post) are e-commerce sites that are fitting for their brands and yes, that does take resources so if you don’t have them, then it’s not worth jumping into. I gather you may be working for a London-based designer then as you mentioned the BFC. Maybe it’s something that I flag up to them‚Ķ. I’m not sure funding will ever happen but perhaps workshops/tutorials could be the next step‚Ķ.
    I’d rather NewGen/LFW designers get their actual websites up to scratch first though‚Ķ. that’s a more important issue! E-commerce – let’s take baby steps‚Ķ.

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  18. Swan

    2011-04-07 at 11:53 PM

    Ya I wrote that at 6 in the morning having not gone to bed yet. What I mean about “ladders” and what can look like progress but might not be is… there are still old ways of selling that are mixed in with the new that I think are still working for people, at least for the moment, but won’t necessarily hold fast. An example would be, the months between a product being presented on the catwalk and when it actually gets to the stores. And the disjointed way of dealing with seasons. It used to make sense but now with the immediacy of the internet, the usual copying problems, and how we are so global in our selling now and that it is very seasonless, perhaps less so. (I keep fall/winter in store always, even in our spring/summer for example because of Australia.) So some of these old selling styles are still working but people are changing them. I’m not really the only one saying this.
    And what can look like a very effective cash flow might be more like really beautiful presentation. And a smaller company may look less magnificent in presentation and what you can see of the scale but is larger than you think. Nothing new there really.
    I hear you re smaller designers and no I don’t think that scale of designer you listed there is misrepresenting themselves. I’m not up in arms about this or anything, but some actually very large companies doing a sort of “I’m a little blogger girl, here’s my cute little blogger girl world” resonates a bit falsely. Though I think choosing your “in the blogging world” it girl of the moment is a cool thing. Just when it is done while pretending they aren’t doing it irks me mildly, a mild irkage.
    So what I am saying is people are just figuring things out is all, there are fits and starts, and things that are sticking and growing around a core of working progress.
    I also don’t think hat anyone you were talking about has product that needs “propping up with presentation and narrative. The presentation and the product are well weighted. I think for me that I hope I can make things that are the story in themselves. But as I am always talking online there has always been more to the story than my product. In no way am I against fantasy and story telling, that is my favourite thing.

  19. matthew daniel siskin

    2011-04-08 at 12:14 AM

    Susie is 100% correct in that, don’t just throw something online to sell straight away. Its all about baby steps. I have worked with max o (suno) from the start of his business, and at each moment – it was a waiting game, don’t dive in. We first launced a brand site in order to establish who suno was online (and off) doing this is everything.
    3 years later, when the demand was starting to build it was time to make the investment – but the growth as a brand on all levels (financially and otherwise) was so key in order to get to a refined place, as well as set up the business around running an online store. As another comment mentioned, ecomm is truely a full time around the clock investment, its essentially having a child.
    Don’t rush, make the right moves for the brand – design should always and forever be the priority all comes second.

  20. Swan

    2011-04-08 at 1:35 AM

    You know there is a huge scale issue here. What larger companies are finding difficult is that they are trying to fit skyscrapers on caravans type thing. The way the internet works, like a small-fastness which is then made huge through reach is the opposite of how larger more established companies are structured. It’s nice or reassuring, to hear e-commerce presented by “experts” but people are just doing intuitively what these new reps are talking about and at the speed at which the internet actually works. You can prep yourself forever for your intersection with the internet but by the time you think you are ready the game has changed. It’s best to just get in there and make mistakes I think and grow. Your mistakes, if not too unforgivable, are part of your humanity and your appeal and your online story. I’ve been saying recently there are few scandals you can’t recover from these days. It’s because of the unstoppable moving quantity of our interaction online.
    That being said, yes to baby steps. You don’t have to get the whole kit and kaboodle in there from day one but do something.

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  23. Felicia

    2011-04-09 at 5:31 PM

    Celine need an e-commerce site!

  24. Jules

    2011-04-10 at 7:01 AM

    I found the first bit of this post very interesting – about how fashion PR agencies are now encouraging their clients to expand on their digital presences. It’s just fascinating how in just one decade, the Internet and its technologies have sorta changed the traditional rules of business that these major fashion houses have stuck to for many more. Now it’s not just about the courtship of fashion publication editors, it’s the courtships of editors, consumers, opinion leaders and early adopters such as yourself and other well-known fashion bloggers to disseminate unto the general public, etc.
    I may be too idealistic when I say this, but I like that the Internet has somewhat democratised the fashion industry. That brands now have to appeal to the individual consumer (or at least, their opinion leaders) carefully because one wrong move can lead a few complaints. And a few complaints on the Internet has the potential to spread and grow into a global rabble of angry consumers, which would be the last thing businesses would want.
    Good topic to bring up, Susie. It’s great knowing that there are fashion bloggers/writers who are interested in more than just pretty clothes. 🙂

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