As we all know, it’s sale season, so perhaps you’ve ventured outside of your retail comfort zone recently to order an item you’ve been pining after from a retailer that you’ve never shopped before. After all, what’s a better reason to try new things that the promise of a steep discount? When you do that, you learn all sorts of interesting things about new stores: which places offer free shipping, which places take forever to process your orders and perhaps most interesting, which places have the best packaging. We’re ready to crown a new champion.

In theory, packing shouldn’t matter all that much, as long as an item is packed well enough to arrive to your doorstep intact. In reality, though, the experience of buying luxury goods is among the things that make them worth the extra cash, and when it comes to the impersonal realm of online shopping, packaging is one of the best ways for a retailer to wow a customer and attract his or her future business. Most fashion has a standardized price for the vast majority of the year, so the little things are what can make one retailer shine over another when deciding where to buy a particular piece – the price will be equal, but what will be different?

During this sale season, I ordered items from three different retailers – Barneys, Net-a-Porter and Matches. Barneys is, of course, a New York-based retail chain with a basis in brick-and-mortar stores, and Net-a-Porter and Matches are both British companies – Net-a-Porter with a strictly online presence, Matches with several stores in London and a more robust presence online. All three purchases were shoes, so I got a chance to compare apples to apples, and Matches was the clear winner when it came to distilling the in-person luxury experience down to a courier delivery.

Net-a-Porter is known for beautiful packaging and its famous black boxes, but when you order shoes from the retailer, they simply come in the designer’s shoe box, tied with a black NAP bow, nestled inside the shipping box with black tissue. It’s a nice presentation, for sure, and it gets extra points for not being wasteful of materials while still providing a little extra oomph. Barneys, perhaps because the company is more focused on in-store experiences than online ones, simply placed the shoe box inside the shipping box – all the luxury was provided by the designer, and even the shipping information was stuffed into a clear plastic pouch on the outside of the box. Perfectly functional, but also perfectly average.

Matches, though, absolutely blew me away. My shoe box was placed inside a gorgeous, heavy, marble-printed, tissue-lined box made by British company Irving & Co., with prints commissioned from artist Annie Muir, complete with magnetic closure. My receipt and return information were tucked inside of a card stock envelope with an interior lining that matched the marble box, and the whole package was then slipped into a perfectly sized DHL shipping pack. Opening it at the office drew onlookers from neighboring desks and felt about as close to going into a high-end department store as online shopping ever gets.

The only downside of my Matches purchase was that delivery from the UK for a package of that size cost $20, whereas Barneys and Net-a-Porter both shipped gratis from New Jersey. For the money, though, my package, ordered on a Friday afternoon, arrived Monday morning all the way from across the pond. Between that impressive shipping time and the impressive presentation, the $20 didn’t even sting.

Of the online shopping destinations you’ve ordered from, which provided your favorite box-opening experience?

Matches Bags

P.S. Please consider supporting our small, bag-loving team by clicking our links before shopping or checking out at your favorite online retailers like Amazon, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, or any of the listed partners on our shop page. We truly appreciate your support!

Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • klynneann

    Made my first purchase from Moda Operandi during their sale (talk about deep discounts! ) and was almost more excited, and definitely surprised, about the packaging than the purchase of two Equipment blouses. Pink tissue paper lined the shipping box and snug inside was a pink garment bag made of sturdy but soft canvas. It went right from the box to my closet!

  • QuelleFromage

    I’m never really wowed by packaging – NAP has become really average (and in sale time they usually cut corners – I had one package just stuffed, wrinkled, into a cheap-looking bag). my-wardrobe is just like NAP but doesn’t seem to change for sales, and Luisa Via Roma has nice packaging but not in keeping with the price point. I’ll order from Matches and MO JUST to see this packaging.

  • Katie

    Tieks shoes (flats) come in a cute turquoise box with a huge flower bow on it and a hand written note card. Love that!

  • Amaryllix

    I ordered a pair of AMQ shoes ages ago from Matches (great CS, btw) and still have the marbled box they came in! Looks so cool in my closet.

  • Dorothy Roy Kemper

    Tieks rocks!

  • laura

    It’s nice to receive your items in a nice package but it’s not as important as “free shipping/free return” or the speed of delivery. For me, packaging is completely secondary if not completely irrelevant.

  • Deedee

    I bought a candle from Jo Malone once and the packaging was lined in black tissue paper with a nice sturdy box to be reused. It shouldn’t matter but I was swayed into thinking that $60 for a candle was worth it.

    • Jo Malone does have really beautiful packaging, you’re right. I have a bunch of their boxes in my apartment.

  • Sandra

    When having something shipped the best packaging was Louis Vuitton and Gucci. The experience was fun from opening the outer box to the boxes inside…so pretty with lovely boxes and pretty bows. I know that is crazy but I love getting things in pretty packages. Since I have experienced situations where I really needed to return an item and buying from stores that are not local is such a pain. I now purchase everything that I can from Nordstrom as they are local and their return (making me happy) policies are second to none. With that said,,,the packaging is one area that Nordstrom could improve. I order designer (expensive articles) that are simply thrown in a outer box (bags are put in their dust cover and sometimes a plastic) but still….yikes! I ordered an Antigona just about a month ago….and when the box arrived my porch it was crushed on one side, I thought my bag was ruined….. It was not…but still….it certainly had the potential of being destroyed in transit…the outer box was in no way sturdy enough and the actual bag just sitting inside that box and one strip of packing tape holding it all together.

  • Casey

    LN-CC ships their items inside these fancy boxes with friendship bracelet details that I’m in love with. I have one that slides open with and another that opens like a book with a magnetic closure and they both sit on my shelf and look pretty. Mr Porter and Alexander Wang both have nice white boxes

  • Maya

    Matchesfashion, no question!

  • AMDG

    I recently bought Isabel Marant boots from Matches. The shoebox was within a huge second ornate box and then within a shipping box. Its luxurious, but really wasteful. NAP also can go over the top, but at least there is a plain packaging option. All the packaging goes straight into the recycling bin. I just want to make sure my items are in perfect condition on arrival. I bought a Givenchy bag from Barneys and it arrived squashed in a tiny box without a shred of tissue paper, inside or out.

  • thescm

    Packaging is important to me, as well. I like advertising, packaging, the whole experience. My favorites have actually been etsy sellers, a lot of them go the extra mile to do cute/personalized packaging.

  • lumidee

    i agree completely, i love the matches boxes and you get to keep them for other uses…