Once upon a time, designer fashion was tucked away in the most exclusive reaches of Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive. It was available to super wealthy people and select few editors who would filter it and eventually trickle it down to the rest of us in the pages of glossy monthly magazines—in which we could discover our fantasies but never quite participate.
And then came along a new generation of web-based innovators that completely changed the game.
Ready to Rock:
Former fashion editor Natalie Massenet launched the high-end shopping site Net-a-Porter, with a sleek and chic look inspired by the format of a magazine glossy. And she made a cool £350 million when she sold it a decade later in 2010.
It now draws 2.5 million readers monthly, has its own gorge web magazine called The Edit, brings behind-the-scenes access to close to half a million viewers on its drool-worthy Instagram feed—and is well established as a true luxury retailer, never mind the absence of brick and mortar.
In another corner of the Internet, Harvard Business School buds Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss cofounded Rent the Runway back in 2009—and its presence has only gained dominance. The site has a super easy interface that allows women to rent high-end designer pieces for a special occasion (or whenever!) at a price they can afford.
Sizes come in 0 to 16—and a brand new, just-launched RTR Plus collection offers plus-sized options now up to size 22. And there are even special caveats that make the process ever more doable—the team will send a second rental dress in a backup size to make sure you've got the right fit from afar, and an affordable insurance policy is included to protect you against potential damage.
What all this means is that ordinary woman from anywhere around the country—you, us, anyone!—could wear a Hervé Léger, Carolina Herrera or Missoni gown for a big day and have just the same access to those high fashions as those shopping ultra high-end boutiques.
So for lifting the veil of mystery on haute couture, and creating web platforms by which designer style is accessible to those of us in the real world, we choose Massenet, Hyman and Fleiss as stylemakers.
They know innovation is always in fashion.
For more on Net-a-Porter and Rent the Runway, watch E! News tonight at 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.