There are very few holdout brands that don’t allow their bags to be sold online. Chanel is the one that comes to most people’s minds first, although the company has acknowledged that some day in the probably-not-distant future, it will enter into online sales beyond the cosmetics, fragrance and eyewear currently available on its site. There’s also Goyard, which doesn’t sell online at all and, if the brand gets its way, I’d guess probably never will. The third great holdout is Céline, whose website has remained largely unchanged since Phoebe Philo reinvigorated the brand after her appointment in 2008. Céline just launched a new website design, though, and it seems primed for an as-yet-unlaunched dive into online sales.
In the past, Céline’s website has been mostly a repository for its lookbooks, released four times a year. In the past year or so, those lookbooks have gotten longer and more complete, and they’ve also begun to feature a complete set of pricing information for US shoppers, and sometimes also some basic size and material info. It wasn’t a lot to go on, especially if you were wondering how a bag might look at different angles or exactly how long the strap was, but it was better than nothing, absent e-commerce.
The new website, on the other hand, still allows shoppers to look at seasonal ready-to-wear lookbooks, but it chops up the product categories non-seasonally, in the way most online shops do. The handbag tab in particular has lots of new organization, which lets you look at new arrivals as well as current options for the brand’s most popular bags, like the Luggage, Trio, Belt and Classic Box. Once you enter any of the categories, you can then filter by season, size, material, carry style or color. These options are all totally new—the only previous way to navigate was paging through the seasonal lookbooks manually.
The product pages themselves have also taken a step toward e-commerce norms with multiple angle shots for all listed bags. That’ll be a huge help to shoppers who don’t live near a store that stocks Céline and who end up ordering over the phone in the current market, which feels enormously inefficient and inexact when you’re used to shopping online.
Another handy feature is geolocation, which allows you to click a button on a product page to find out if a particular piece is available at the Céline stores nearest you, which is also a handy stock-checking technique for those who want to minimize the guesswork of ordering by phone. The site also now features a “save” functionality that requires you to sign up for an account and that shows the number of saved items in an icon at the top right corner of the screen—it’s exactly how shopping cart functionality works on most retail sites, but there’s no mechanism to check out. At least not yet.
Céline has not made any official or public comment about its potential e-commerce intentions, but this new site does seem perfectly geared for it. We’ll keep watching it and let you know as soon as we see or hear any developments.
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