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J.Crew's sister label Madewell to launch on Net-a-Porter.com

By Vivian Hendriksz


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Madewell, the younger, more casual sister label to US hit brand J.Crew is finally making it's debut overseas in the UK market, thanks to a new partnership between the group and Net-a-Porter.com.

The hip label, which is praised in the US for its denim-focused and more accessibly priced collections, has been in high demand in the UK since Alexa Chung first collaborated with the brand in 2011 but is currently only available in North America and Japan via its brick-and-mortar stores as well as its website.

"New customers and fans have been requesting Madewell overseas for years," said Somsack Sikhounmuong, head of design at Madewell in a press release on the move. "You can't beat the edit, presentation and incredible company we'd be keeping on Net-a-Porter," he added.

Net-a-Porter to bring Madewell to UK consumers

The label, which was known for its denim workwear, went out of business in 1989 before it was acquired by Mickey Drexler, CEO of the J.Crew Group in 2004, who aimed to reposition the brand between high-end designer labels and fast-fashion retailers, such as Forever 21.

However, as more European labels such as Topshop and Cos begin to expand in the US, Drexler decided the time was right to take the label overseas. However, instead of launching international shipping and having to manage its own logistics, Madewell teamed up with Net-a-Porter to ensure a smooth transition into its new market.

"Madewell is going to be a major hit with our customers," said Ben Matthews, buying manager at Net-a-Porter.com to the Independent, who was also in charge of introducing J.Crew in the UK back in 2010. "It’s the kind of brand that can form the basis of a killer wardrobe; the collection is smart, straight forward and designed to be worn day-to-day. The accessories are super cool, and you'll find the perfect T-shirt and slouchy sweats as well."

Madewell's new spring/summer 2015 collection will launch on Net-a-Porter.com on February 25, but customers who are familar with the brand and its US pricing will need to bear in mind that its international pricing on the luxury site will be slightly inflated.

International customers of Madewell ordering on Net-a-Porter.com should be prepared to pay around a third more than US customers, however Matthews adds that the prices will remain competitive in comparison to other labels offered on the premiuim website.

"The Madewell prices are undoubtedly great for our contemporary offering. We've always had an amazing response to brands and collaborations within this price category," he points out, referring to recent collaborations with Target and designers Peter Pilotto and Altuzarra as well as Kate Moss for Topshop.

Madewell teams up with Nordstrom and Net-a-Porter as the label sets its sights on international expansion

In addition to its new partnership with Net-a-Porter.com, the denim label has also joined forces with US department store Nordstrom, which will be featuring Madewell in stores as well as online from March 2. Drexler hopes the two new partnerships will elevate the label's presences in consumers mind. In a previous interview with the New York Times he said "I would like Madewell jeans to be the Levi's of its generation."

However, he stressed that the brand was not a designated wholesale brand. "As we looked at the availability of our products, we started to look at distribution differently. This, for us, is really a new beginning. I wouldn't call it necessarily a wholesale distribution. I would just call it distribution that makes sense from a customer point of view, from a brand point of view, from a Nordstrom and Net-a-porter point of view."