Luxury fashion has quickly morphed away from Old Hollywood glamour to sneakers and nylon belts. But for online retailer Mytheresa, that air of sophistication and charm is still the heart of its business.
“We love the true luxury part of the [fashion] business,” said Michael Kliger, CEO of Mytheresa, on this week’s Glossy Podcast. “It is by definition a limited set of brands that you could count as luxury.”
With roots as a boutique in Munich starting in 1987, Mytheresa has evolved alongside changes in luxury, including with its launch of a menswear category in 2020 and the company’s IPO in January. Although the retailer maintains a focus on “traditional” luxury brands, like Valentino, Prada and Gucci, as well as occasions, like a “garden party,” Mytheresa also carries “cooler, new [brands] like Jacquemus,” in response to evolving customer tastes, which accelerated during the pandemic, said Kliger.
In contrast to other luxury retailers, Mytheresa carries fewer than 250 brands, living up to its tagline of, ‘The finest edit in luxury fashion.”
“We always say the journey of our customers starts with an occasion in mind, not with a product in mind,” said Kliger.
Mytheresa’s focus on occasion did not falter during the pandemic, when sales of cashmere, knitwear, sneakers and slide shoes boomed as shoppers traded in galas for the living room couch. And on the other side of luxury, categories like vacation wear, formal dresses and party clothes have rebounded more recently, he said.
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
A customer-first approach
“I’m often asked, ‘Are you a luxury company?’ No. ‘Are you a digital company?’ No. ‘Are you an operations company?’ No. What are we? We are a customer company. The staff and colleagues in our warehouses are as important to [ensuring] satisfied customers [as] the buyers that are out and selecting items, or the creatives that design the beautiful shoots and videos, or the techies that make sure the platform is as intuitively [designed as it needs to be]. We need everyone, and it’s a collective effort… In the end, the customer is the judge.”
On expanding into menswear
“We had a great experience over the last two years. We were latecomers to the [menswear] game. Mytheresa for many years was womenswear only. But that gave us a chance [to expand] because we hit the market when it transitioned from the successful streetwear styling phenomenon to a more dressed, matured [customer]. We launched with exclusive capsules from Thom Browne and Valentino. We have seen very nice traction: Eighty-five percent of our male menswear customers are pure menswear customers. They don’t buy anything else on Mytheresa, which tells us it’s a new audience… We continuously refine our positioning to be as curated and unique as we are in womenswear.”
“Sustainability is a topic that is important to customers, investors, but also our teams. There’s also internal demand [to ask], ‘What is the company I’m working for doing?’ We have launched the Vestiaire partnership [and] we have committed ourselves to be fur-free with the new season: spring 2022. We also commit within this current fiscal year to becoming carbon neutral. The biggest source of carbon is shipping [and] sending packages. Suppose you buy from our platform and deliver it to the U.S. Carbon offsetting [costs] around 40 Euro cents. And we have committed to take that on as a company. And we will also offer our customers [the opportunity] to offset, but that goes beyond what the company does anyway — we don’t ask customers to do our job. But some customers also want to do something. Sustainability is a journey. There’s no end state, and every year, you need to be better.”