Fashion Philosophies by Net-a-Porter's Lisa Aiken

Take a page out of Lisa Aiken's fashion philosophy book.The Fashion Director at Net-A-Porter believes wearable is good, statement is better, but love conquers all
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She heads the team that curates every fashion item you see on one of the world's biggest luxury shopping sites. An online store that carries commercial giants like Prada and Gucci, but is also a den of cult brands, fledgling start-ups and freshly discovered brands from lands one would hardly put a pin on on the fashion map.

We sit down with the gregarious, ever-travelling but indefatigable Lisa Aiken, Fashion Director of Net-A-Porter, to talk about what excites her this season, who's caught her eye, and why statement dressing will never go out of fashion.

What are you most excited about for the coming season? 

It’s one of those seasons where it’s a lot more wearable and a lot more individual than previous seasons. There was a lot of commentary about it not being a very exciting season, but from my point of view – as a woman and a retailer – it was one of the most exciting seasons we’ve had in a very long time because there’s a lot that’s wearable, easy to put together, and fun and upbeat. Designers each did their own thing very well, whether at Valentino where the lovely colour palette spoke to quite a playful mood; or Prada, which was the typical Prada mashup where you never know what you’re going to get every season but it comes together and looks amazing.


Have you ever bought into a collection just because you saw the designers wore their designs in a super cool way? 

A brand I’m really proud of, that sold out in days, was Attico. They have these really beautiful long robe dresses that you can wear for evening, but they’re styling them with denim underneath or with loafers, making them wearable for day. It was started by two girls who are so cool themselves. Giorgia [Tordini] is polished and wears their stuff in a more straightforward, elegant way. Gilda [Ambrosio] is more edgy and wears the same dress with combat boots. The collection was really strong and the price points were very good, but having that duality in styling, so it wasn’t just eveningwear, made it more interesting. 

We just launched Maggie Marilyn last September, her first collection out of university. I saw the collection, and she was wearing it all layered up in a very exaggerated way. That caught my eye beyond the individual pieces – seeing how she put it together. 

Then there’s Alessandra Rich. She’s this Italian woman who’s a beautiful person and also super chic. She can wear just jeans and a sweater and look amazing. She’ll wear something from her collection and it’ll look like, oh I just slipped this on. And I love Rosie Assouline and her crew. They’ll wear amazing eveningwear with shredded jeans, and all look fabulous. 

Do you work with influencers, and do they actually boost sales? 

We have The Net Set, which is our social media shopping platform, and under that we have the Style Council. This includes fashion influencers who have huge followings, but also other people – in film, the creative industries or the commercial industry – whose style we think our customers would appreciate seeing. 

Women are getting more savvy in styling themselves, and I think that confidence has come from the power of social media and influencers. Women are looking at how influencers are putting things together and saying, “I can do that too. I don’t have to do it how the runway did it or magazines did it. I can do this and this, and make it more right for me.” This shift is seen in runway shows, down to casting – fashion has become more individualist and personal, and that’s what’s exciting. 

We do actually see the effect of influencers on sales. Say, something has been on our site for a certain time, then someone is seen carrying it – we will see sales go up. We know that it works. Whether it’s immediate and we can draw a dotted line between this and that, I can’t say. 

Is there any pressure on you, being in the fashion line, to get validation on social media? (Aiken has over 20,000 followers on Instagram)

I got on Instagram a long time ago but I never really used it. Only at the beginning of 2016 did I say, “OK, I’m gonna try to post more frequently.” I do enjoy posting things on there, but I only post fashion stuff, no personal life... There’s a certain amount of pressure – you’re at an event and everyone’s on their phones, posting stuff. And then the food arrives and people stand up to take pictures – it’s my pet peeve. But I do love supporting new brands on my Instagram and giving a snapshot of what fashion month is like, what my life on the road is like. How interesting that is to anyone, I can’t really tell you! I think Instagram is a vehicle for sharing what I’m excited about, and I’d do it even if no one was following me – it’s how my husband knows where I am! (laughs)

"What a woman wants in a time when she's very conscious about what she's spending on, is something she's going to fall in love with - something she has a real emotional connection to."

All images from Instagram /@lisa.aiken



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