Online Retail Business of the Week: L-atitude


L-atitude

At first glance, it seems like L-atitude wants to make you jealous — its motto is “Shop the world.  Flaunt your wheres.”  But on deeper inspection, the globetrotting e-shop makes a point of offering international goods in such a slick, fun way, it’s hard not to be smitten.

While keeping with a traditional e-commerce design — categories broken down by designer, apparel type, etc. — L-atitude focuses on a new grouping: “destination.”  If you want to skip the generic handbag arena, for instance, and head directly to beaded bags sourced from a designer in Bogota, the option for a little virtual trip on the site is right there.

L-atitude’s founder, Alisa Ng (who left a finance career to start the online shop) wanted to create something that merged travel and fashion, thus serving as a virtual shopping escape.  She emphasizes the global nature of the site by focusing on designers handpicked from different locales.  New York (where the company is based) is represented by names an American shopper is likely to recognize — you may have heard of Thakoon.  But even that list covers wider territory, with harder-to-find designers like Avion Feminin and Brook&Lyn.

Meanwhile, other goods are featured from artisans in locales ranging from Mumbai to Istanbul to Manila. Ever heard of Anupamaa or Kuyumcu?  Neither had we.

A handy, funny chart from L-atitude’s blog.

Lest the site sound like an experiment in general globalization, rest assured it’s anything but.  A strong editorial component breaks down and magnifies the cities featured — and frankly, the result is pretty beautiful.  There are street shots in Istanbul from Garance Doré mixed with tongue-in-cheek exchange rate charts (see above) and editorials from the site’s designers.  After all, what’s a virtual international shopping trip if you’re not going to be educated about the creators of the goods you buy?  Reading the blog is like reaching into the pages of Travel and Leisure to find out more about (or discover) that ikat scarf you have to have.

Like most online ventures these days, L-atitude requires membership — but all you have to do is sign up.  After that, there’s a $25 incentive for inviting friends to join and start shop-traveling, too.  For those saving up for some real-life travel (or anything else), L-atitude recently launched a semi-hidden sale section called First Class, where marked down items are reduced even further.  Following the wildly-popular flash sale trend, the items are only available on a limited-time basis.  Plus if you shop the Global Give portion of the site, the proceeds are donated to charity.

Ng launched the site in 2010.  Really, we can’t believe nobody created this product earlier — for every fashion-weary instance we’ve seen our H&M dress on somebody else, unique and cost-effective designer goods from around the world are the perfect antidote.