Chanel, D&G and Ralph Lauren reach mainstream audience with apps

Luxury brands have historically turned up their collective nose at an online presence, relegating products instead to the pages of magazines and the shelves of boutique showrooms. But the economic downturn has caused many high-end designers to come out of their ivory towers, providing more mainstream access via iPhone apps.

Of course, the principle: “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it” still applies, but a little window-shopping never hurt anyone.

Fashion frenzy

Within the assortment of iPhone apps for fashion designers, there are some major missteps mixed in with the good. It would behoove app developers to remember that the ultimate goal of these apps is to sell a product—it won’t matter how high-tech the program or how cool the video is if users can’t find product information within the app itself.

Lacoste Red! (free) is one such misstep. The app features a hip video with jumping models and a store locator. Viewing individual styles plays a nine-second video of a model floating in air, which is slow and gives me no more information than just looking at a still image. The  “I want it now!” button must be broken because tapping it does nothing.

Less flashy is Elie Tahari Fall 2009 Runway Show (free). This is a no-frills app: It launches to a zoomed-in runway look. Tap “shop,” and the app displays the names, sizes, colors and prices of the included products. Tap “Shop Elie Tahari” and you get the option to find a store or shop online, which takes you to the Web site. The app could use some work, but overall it’s incredibly useful for any Tahari fans.

The app D&G Fashion Channel (free) doesn’t feature much information about individual D&G designs, but does offer a collection lookbook, runway video and designer news. Now that the Italian behemoth has launched its first online store ( the brand would do well to integrate purchase capabilities into the app itself.

Chanel Haute Couture Automne-Hiver 2009/10 (free) boasts runway show highlights, viewing of the current collection, company news and a store locator. I like that while viewing the lookbook you can flip the phone to get a close up view of the outfit’s accessories. Fendi (free) also offers runway video as well as a backstage glimpse, a lookbook and a store finder.

Ralph Lauren Collection (free) lets users explore the summer and fall collections as well as take a 360-degree look at its famous Ricky bag. The Ricky Collections includes the bag’s different options, pricing and spec information and also provides access to call a personal shopper. The clothing lookbook doesn’t include pricing, but does have some information. Ralph Lauren’s other app Rugby Ralph Lauren gives users the opportunity to design and purchase their custom polo shirt or cardigan directly from the iPhone.

French designer Christian Dior’s app Dior (free) is centered on the Lady Dior bag, however, rather than directly promoting the accessory, the app instead features a six-and-a-half-minute-long movie and a trailer and making-of The Lady Noire Affair, starring Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard. Will viewers ever discover what the femme fatale has stashed in her Dior bag? Perhaps in the brand’s upcoming sequel Lady Rouge.


If just looking at luxe items on your iPhone or iPod Touch isn’t enough, there are apps available to encourage your spending habits.

Net-App (free) is a portal for the popular shopping site The app automatically updates new products twice a week and also includes convenient access to the site’s weekly online magazine. Items can be viewed in portrait or landscape and the app supports pinch-to-zoom. Purchases are made in-app, so style-mavens can shop anywhere, bettering their chances of snagging an item before it’s sold out.

In contrast, Web site’s app Shopping Fashion ($1.99) is terrible and I’m unclear as to why anyone should buy it. The app is divided into women, men and beauty and from there you can view new products or “must-haves.” Items include a “Buy Online” button, which then launches Safari and Although the site does have a link to relaunch the app when you’re done, there’s no reason to drop $2 when you end up using the Web site to do everything anyway.

One of the best shopping apps out there is the newly released Gilt on the Go (free) from Gilt Groupe. Gilt is a members-only site that features limited-time sales on luxury brands at discounts up to 70 percent. Gilt’s app supports push notifications for when new sales begin, lets you browse active sales and also previews upcoming sales and start times. Items sell out incredibly fast, so members away from a computer at a sale start are guaranteed to miss out—this app solves that problem and because items are purchased from the app, fashionistas won’t miss out on a great deal.

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