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23 October 2014 Last updated
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Fashion | Women

Chic @ a click

The future of fashion is at the end of a mouse – Gemma Jones catches up with the online fashpreneurs

By Gemma Jones
22 Jul 2013 | 12:19 pm
  • Leila Yavari

    Leila Yavari, fashion director of luxe fashion website www.stylebop.com

    Source:Supplied picture Image 1 of 4
  • Payal Patel

    Payal Patel, co-founder of this fashion-forward regional brand.

    Source:Supplied picture Image 2 of 4
  • Kunal Kappor

    Kunal Kappor, founder of vintage online boutique.

    Source:Supplied picture Image 3 of 4
  • Alex Theophanous

    Alex Theophanous, one half of the husband-and-wife team behind this premium children’s clothes online store.

    Source:Supplied picture Image 4 of 4

www.stylebop.com
Leila Yavari
, fashion director of luxe fashion website www.stylebop.com

What’s your personal style?

My personal style is effortless and understated with a modern twist. I like to combine seemingly disparate elements like masculine silhouettes with feminine flourishes or sporty pieces mixed with classically elegant items. 
I tend to favour menswear-inspired timeless separates rendered in luxe fabrics from brands like Jil Sander.

How does your personal style affect the buying process of the company?

I keep all women in mind when buying for www.stylebop.com. My personal style and taste perhaps only come into play subconsciously. I am more driven by what trends are relevant for next season, what pieces are commercially available and which catwalk looks will translate easily to our customers. Most importantly, I make an effort to buy different silhouettes in order to accommodate all body types and I’m always searching for key pieces that are essentials for a modern woman’s wardrobe.

What’s your background with the company?

I started in 2010, but www.stylebop.com was initially founded in 2004 by two brothers, Mario and Thorsten Eimuth, who entered the e-commerce fashion market after selling their bricks-and-mortar outpost Sarajo – one of Europe’s first luxury concept stores. Nine years later, www.stylebop.com is continental Europe’s leading online shopping destination.

What other websites do you shop on?

I buy vintage furniture online. I love the selection of mid-century must-haves at www.1stdibs.com.

What’s unique about your company?

We feature high-end luxury and emerging new-wave brands from hard-to-find designers, which sets us apart from other e-tailers.


If money was no object, what would be your one blow-out style purchase?

Look 2 from Paco Rabanne’s A/W13 collection. It’s a preternaturally beautiful objet d’art.



www.fashlink.com
Payal Patel, co-founder of this fashion-forward regional brand

What’s your personal style?

Feminine and chic with a tad of swag! I wear classic pieces and use unique accessories to spice up my look. I’m crazy about florals and prints and love to mix them up with single-colour basics.

How does your personal style affect the buying process of the company?

I tend to go for things with a bit of edge. I keep it fresh and unique with a touch of that regional twist. I like to express myself through fashion and add elements of something distinctive to my looks, which translates into my personal style.

What’s your background with the company?

I am one of the co-founders of www.fashlink.com. Initially we launched in January 2012 as an interactive digital catalogue displaying all the latest in fashion in retail stores around the UAE. Before the end of 2012 we took a step into the e-commerce world and revamped the site into an online boutique offering unique items from regional designers.

My inspiration has always been supporting regional talent, and there is a lot of it! Unfortunately there are very few boutiques in the region that can offer all their products online. So I wanted to provide a platform for designers to showcase their products through the virtual realm.

We deliver worldwide and we love the fact that we have customers for our regional designers that order from all corners of the world. We are also expanding our offering to affordable, unique and fashion-forward items that can’t be found in every other mall.

What other websites do you shop on?

I find that www.asos.com is great for fast fashion, and www.shopbop.com offers most luxury brands.

What’s unique about your company?

Our items tend to be fashion-forward for 
the conservative woman, or the woman 
living in a conservative region. As the designers we work with are from the GCC 
and the Levant, they mostly have a little ethnic twist to their products.

Within the month we will be launching the Middle East’s first fashion iPhone app, which means that you can shop on the go. Our Android edition will be coming shortly after.

We are also expanding our product line to fast-fashion, on-trend items available at affordable prices, and we will be launching our men’s section soon as well.

If money was no object, what would be your one blow-out style purchase?

I’d buy myself a walk-in wardrobe with all the new-season collections, world’s best ‘it’ bags and, of course, those must-have shoes!



www.theluxurycloset.com
Kunal Kappor
, founder of vintage online boutique, www.theluxurycloset.com

What’s your personal style?

Understated elegance with a hint of colour.

How does your personal style affect the buying process of the company?

What we buy depends on the demand from our clients. In addition, each category is managed by an expert. While my personal style has a very small influence on the buying process, I must admit that I am a big fan of Chanel and Louis Vuitton, especially vintage finds. While I find Chanel products classic and beautiful, the savoir faire and craftsmanship 
of Vuitton never fails to impress me.

What’s your background with the company?

I gained experience in luxury management during my time working as a retail sales manager for Louis Vuitton. While I was there, 
I was overwhelmed with requests for discounts, always having to disappoint everyone as top brands like Vuitton, Hermes and Chanel never discount their products.

I wondered if there was a solution to this problem, and one day while speaking to a friend about it, it occurred to me that the only way to get a BMW at 40 per cent less than the original price was to buy it pre-owned... 
so could this work for bags?

This led me to start www.theluxurycloset.com, which offers pre-owned items from top luxury brands, most of which are in like-new condition. The site started selling only handbags in January 2012, but now we offer a wide range including luxury watches, shoes and jewellery.

What other websites do you shop on?

I shop on www.amazon.com. Also, a site I spend a lot of time on is www.emirates.com, which is an example of excellent customer experience in my view.

What’s unique about your company?

Mainly the products we have, which range from Hermes Birkins to the classic ‘it’ bag Louis Vuitton Speedy. It is about finding items from coveted brands, and curating exquisite items from the world over. Our popular items sell fast, which leads our clients to come back often to check what’s new – some of them visit our site almost every day.

We are excited to expand our categories. We recently added branded jewellery and are looking to start with clothing soon. We’re also working very hard on developing our on-site customer experience. We’re currently working on a request function, which will allow our clients to be as specific as, “Email me when a Prada shoe in red in 
a size 39 gets added.”

If money was no object, what would be your one blow-out style purchase?

It would be a classic car. Perhaps an old Mercedes SL convertible.



www.alexandalexa.com
Alex Theophanous, one half of the husband-and-wife team behind this premium children’s clothes online store

What is your personal style?

My day-to-day style pretty much consists of a sharp-cut pair of chinos, patterned shirt and a round-neck pullover. I live in Grenson brogues. I have a lot of shirts. I’m very fussy! To sum it up, I would say I’m a classic kind of guy with an eye for quality.

How does your personal style affect the buying process for the company?

As a parent, I make suggestions, but we have a really fantastic buying team at AlexandAlexa who are in tune with what our customers like, as well as what’s on trend each season for children’s wear.

What’s your background with the company?

Six years ago and with two children 
under the age of five, my wife and I loathed the stress of family shopping 
trips and wanted to access the world’s best kids’ collections without having to hit a high street on a busy Saturday afternoon. As regular online shoppers for ourselves, in 2007 we identified a gap in the market for a premium children’s online store, and the AlexandAlexa brand was born. We strived to create an online shopping destination for parents like us.

What other websites do you shop on?

I like www.mrporter.com and www.yoox.com for myself, also www.matchesfashion.com and www.ernestalexander.com. For gifts for Alexa, I always go to www.net-a-porter.com, and Mr & Mrs Smith’s new family site is my go-to for holiday bookings!

What’s unique about your company?

We’re so passionate about every item we select for our customers and strive to inspire them with our expertise, presented in a way that makes shopping for your child fun. We’ve evolved beyond just being about the labels.

Although fashion is the essence of what we do, it’s now about curating the best in style, innovation, performance and design for children – whether that’s an awesome high chair 
you’d be proud to have in your home or a Nike running shoe 
you trust is the best you can buy.

If money was no object, what would be your one blow-out style purchase?

I’d buy the most decadent watch you can 
find! I love watches, particularly ones by Panerai and Hublot.

By Gemma Jones

By Gemma Jones