x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Netting the trends: Sasha Sarokin of Net-A-Porter.com visits the UAE

We catch up with Sasha Sarokin of Net-A-Porter.com on her first visit to the UAE to talk about the luxury e-tailer's take on our country's shoppers and their fashion favourites.

According to Sasha Sarokin, buying manager for Net-A-Porter.com, fine jewellery is high on the list of big ticket pieces for the coming season. Razan Alzayani / The National)
According to Sasha Sarokin, buying manager for Net-A-Porter.com, fine jewellery is high on the list of big ticket pieces for the coming season. Razan Alzayani / The National)

From featuring the hottest looks of the season to showcasing established labels and the brightest burgeoning designers, the e-tailer Net-A-Porter.com has attracted more than 2.5 million women customers every month since it launched in 2000. But when it comes to which must-have accessories are displayed online, ever wondered how the content of the luxury fashion retailer is put together?

Upon her first visit to the UAE, Sasha Sarokin - Net-A-Porter.com's buying manager for non-apparel goods - lifted the lid on the site's selection process and shared her top tips for the coming season.

Which key trends should we be looking out for next season?

We're calling it "the great clean-up" or "great refresh". Whether it's a head-to-toe print or solid, it's about taking a quieter tone but not losing the embellishment. White can fall within that and we're seeing a lot of head-to-toe white, as well as it being huge in accessories. Historically, you wouldn't have seen a white pump on the street but it's now basically what I'm dying for in my wardrobe. I want that fierce white shoe and it feels like it could almost be the place holder of a black shoe as the essential pair for any wardrobe. I would also add big gold pieces to the mix for the season.

Is the little white dress now as much a staple as the little black dress?

Absolutely, and the white bag - especially the white tote and clutch. We've bought into them quite a bit and the more angular, austere and pared down the detailing, the more they make sense. We always want the new and the exciting in fashion, so putting a little black clutch in an optic white feels very fresh. White-on-white, tonal embellishments, white sheerness, white structural pieces, white head-to-toe layers - we just can't speak enough about white. It's a whitewash.

What about some big ticket pieces for the coming season?

I would go straight to fine jewellery, which may not be as seasonal or trend driven, but are investment pieces. Loree Rodkin is a huge resource for us, so I would say probably a shield ring. Speaking more in-season, I would say a bag is really a key point here - the YSL Sac de Jour is its new "it" bag which we absolutely love and have bought in three colours: black, red and grey.

In the global scale of things, how important are UAE-based shoppers for Net-A-Porter?

The UAE generates strong sales - it's growing. Our EIPs - meaning Extremely Important People - truly love fashion and newness. These are our top VIP customers and we have a higher ratio here than in most parts of the world.

What are the EIPs buying?

They want everything that's fashion-forward. The UAE customer is a very stylish, elegant, sophisticated woman and she wants to stay ahead of the trends - which is what we're all about. She's very much in-line with our "core edit", with the visual factor, the colour and embellishment being very important.

Which specific designers are especially popular in the region?

There are some particularly loved ones: Yves Saint Laurent, Miu Miu, Gucci, Stella McCartney, Valentino, Lanvin, Christian Louboutin, Dolce & Gabbana etc. We have a long list. The ladies from this region really love the big names and impactful pieces. There are no barriers to entry for them - they want the gorgeous.




Sasha says:

Securing the job: Like any good fashion worker, I started with an internship in the industry. From there, I worked at a few fashion houses on the wholesale side, moved into buying and fairly quickly to Net-A-Porter in London.

Why Net-A-Porter? The draw was really the product because that's what the site is all about - it all comes down to the "edit". We're directed to not buy things we don't love and those we don't think our customers will love, so it's an absolute privilege to have that be the driving force of what we do.

An average day: It varies, when we're travelling for shows it's non-stop but it's the most high-energy day you can imagine. Shows may start in the morning, we'll have showroom appointments after that, then a catch-up with the editorial team including the fashion director and buyers - to make sure we're aligned. Everyone sees something different, so it's all about coming together to create what will ultimately end up on the site and represent the season.

Agreeing to disagree: There are always healthy disagreements and debates because we all have our own sense of style and that's also reflected in our customers. We try to have a universal point of view on the site in terms of the edit; be it sparkly and embellished or clean and austere - we want the best pieces of the respective trends. So, yes, there are a lot of cooks, but in the best way and it makes for a delicious soup.

Surprise best-seller: The Isabel Marant trainers were such a runaway success - we were certainly surprised by that. We all loved them but you can never really predict that type of mania for a product. We actually have an exclusive coming up for the summer - a major coup. And we've backed it in such depth, believing the desire is truly there and won't go away any time soon.