It wasn’t long ago that people winced at the thought of ordering a book online, let alone something as complex and personal as a suit. But a new crop of retailers have perfected the formula and online shopping for high-end menswear is amongst the fastest growing areas in the retail sector. The internet now accounts for around 10 per cent of retail sales and this is expected to rise to 14 per cent by 2015. Almost every major store now has an online arm and a host of exciting new firms are flocking to the space, attracted by relatively small start-up costs (after all, paying rent on a store is expensive, especially in central London). Here are our recommendations for the very best in online menswear.
BEST OVERALL: MR PORTER
Mr Porter is the darling of online men’s fashion. Nobody walks the tightrope between high end and accessible with quite such ease. Whether you’re in the market for an Alexander McQueen blazer or a pair of classic Levi’s, this site is for you. The sheer breadth of stock is astonishing: to give you a flavour, the first two items that appear under general clothing are a sumptuous Ralph Lauren Purple Label three piece suit (at £3,430) and a Derek Rose cotton bathrobe (£170). The returns policy is everything you expect from a high-end retailer. It’s the one to beat.
BEST FOR NEW STYLES: SMITHFIELD CASE
Smithfield Case is online shopping with a difference. Its USP is try before you buy. The premise goes something like this: fill in an online questionnaire detailing your tastes, let the company know what items you’re looking for and you’ll be assigned a personal style assistant. A few days later a big box full of clothes will arrive at your door. Try them on, keep what you like and send the rest back (for free). You will only be charged for what you keep. Prices are reasonable (jackets £150-£500, shirts £75-£200).
BEST FOR LUXE SUITS: MATCHES
For high-end designer suits, Matches is well worth a look, stocking a wide range of both office and casual suits. The pieces, from the likes of Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Paul Smith, will generally set you back between £800 and £1,200. Some items come with the option of viewing video footage and there are also some exclusive items, including a very smart Rake Lounge wool dinner suit, which will set you back a cool £2,505. It’s well worth a click.
BEST FOR OUT-THERE FASHION: OKI-NI
Oki-Ni is at the sharper edge of the online fashion world. Its achingly cool website is an arts students’ dream and the clothes match. Some of its pieces stray a little too close to the catwalk (nice in theory but unwearable in practice) but others deserve a place in any wardrobe (including a beautiful Alexander McQueen grey check jacket on sale at a cool £1,215). It can be a little hit and miss but if you’re looking for something a bit special to reinvigorate your look, this is well worth a look.
BEST FOR PIECE OF MIND: SELFRIDGES
Sometimes tried and tested is the way to go. Selfridges is miles ahead of most of its rivals in terms of online shopping. It has the great strength in depth you expect of a department store and its online service is second to none. It also has an excellent range of suits to browse through and you can take advantage of some great sale items to bulk up your wardrobe.
BEST FOR ITALIAN COOL: LUISA VIA ROMA
Another one to file under achingly cool, Luisa Via Roma has a great selection of vaguely music-inspired suits from the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Givenchy. Don’t expect to bag a bargain but for a wide selection of razor sharp suits, this site should be near the top of your list. The company has risen over the last five years to become one of the more successful international online luxury retailers.
BEST FOR VALUE: ASOS
ASOS isn’t so much an online fashion retailer as a phenomenon. Founded more then 10 years ago, it has been many people’s first foray into the world of online fashion. It is very much at the high street end of the spectrum, with most jackets coming in at under £100, especially ASOS’s own brand products. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find some great wardrobe staples here.
BEST FOR EDITORIAL TIPS: MY WARDROBE
My-Wardrobe is at the high end of the mainstream fashion market, nipping at the heels of more established retailers like ASOS. With jackets from the likes of Burberry and Barbour coming in at around £250, you can find some great pieces without breaking the bank. My-Wardrobe also has some great features to give you pointers on the latest styles and how to make sure