By Ivan Yaskey
For the last few years, a handful of key players have dominated the high-end menswear ecommerce market. You more than know their names: YNAP’s Mr. Porter, SSense, and FarFetch, particularly. So, based on the announcement made at the end of May, does Moda Operandi Men stand a chance?
For those not familiar with the site that has spent seven years exclusively focusing on women, Moda Operandi lets you shop the latest seasonal pieces from some of the most visible fashion brands, as well as some up-and-comers. For an edge above its competitors, you can preorder apparel and accessories directly from the runway through its trunkshow feature. Users know that the piece will arrive several months later, but it’s an opportunity to select from styles that don’t always make it onto the floor of brick-and-mortar retailers. For womenswear, the model has proven hugely successful. In response, over the past couple of years, they’ve expanded to home goods and jewelry.
Moda Operandi - Loewe
Yet, during the last two holiday seasons, demand for menswear swelled. As such, branching out into men’s fashion seemed like the next logical step and is predicted to grow the company by an additional 54 percent throughout 2018. “Traditionally, brands only produce 10 to 15 percent of the show looks, resulting in a highly edited offering,” said Moda Operandi CEO Deborah Nicodemus in a press statement. “We saw a void in the market that men were not being offered fashion straight from the runway, [and] Moda Operandi Man will offer customers access to full, unedited collections.”
Officially launching on June 22nd to coincide with Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks, Moda Operandi Men seems much like its female-geared counterpart, down to the curated selection and brands offered. According to a press release, the men’s collection started off with a diverse group of 50 brands – think Prada, Givenchy, Lavin, and Burberry alongside Off-White and Balmain. Many come from the site’s existing women’s selection. Others, apparently, were chosen based on history, relevance, and authenticity.
Right now, with all of the men’s Fashion Week presentations behind us, guys using Moda Operandi Men can browse through current SS18 and next season’s FW18 offerings, and can preorder items from brands’ runway-unveiled SS19 collections. However, for this latter group, don’t expect anything to be sent out until early 2019.
Through this lens, how does Moda Operandi Men stack up after being live for just roughly a month? For one, compared to its long-standing women’s selection, it’s a slightly different experience – and one you can predict after reading through a few menswear blogs. High-end pieces from Off-White sit next to traditional fashion offerings, with plenty of wardrobe basics to pad it all out. The women’s, by contrast, extends through that somewhat-practical to fantastical echelon, with streetwear not even hinted at.
However, after browsing through some of the curated products – all linked on the right-hand side of the main page – much of Moda Operandi Men right now feels like a Mr. Porter redux. You’ve got your flux of pieces in navy, tan, or white, accompanied by a higher price point indicating finer materials and higher-quality tailoring went into them. Perhaps a semi-quirky pair of glasses surfaces – think clear blue frames or something of that ilk – but much of menswear’s nascent effervescence ends there. Want to find some loud, Hawaiian-inspired, or cartoon graphics-based statement shirt? Right now, you’re better off at competing ecommerce stores – or even browsing ASOS’ higher-end items.
The limited selection, along this line, is equally disappointing. On one hand, you’ve got a direct route to purchasing runway-direct items from J.W. Anderson, Burberry, Off-White, and Balmain. A handful, too, reflect to-the-moment trends and collaborations, like the Raf Simons x Adidas dad shoe. But, as a drawback, especially with the modern-day ecommerce store, having only 140 items available for the FW18 season makes it seem like something’s missing. And, considering the vastness and increasing variety at many menswear Fashion Weeks, that sense of having something plucked exclusively from the runway soon dies away; rather, you’re sifting through the leftovers.
Rather, Moda Operandi Men’s trunkshows seem to be the most promising aspect thus far. For a general synopsis about how it works, you can either browse standard product pages with SS19 items – included amongst current merchandise and in a separate trunkshow section – or through clickable runway presentations that take you to an abbreviated PDP page. In either case, most have a window for which you can opt to put a down payment on an upcoming item – as little as four days when we browsed the site – and 50 percent is expected. When we looked around, you could still get runway-direct styles from Officine Générale, as well as various watches and curated monogram pieces.
For this last point, Moda Operandi Men is the place, right now, where you could purchase ultra high-end basics and a couple of statement pieces and essentially have them before everybody else. Unfortunately, its selection hasn’t quite reached the depth of its competitors’, and the site doesn’t have the accompanying content that Mr. Porter does, so its identity doesn’t quite seem as defined. Time changes things, and given Moda Operandi’s women’s selection, Men could get up to speed. At the moment, though, it’s very much in also-ran status.