Karl Lagerfeld launches online-exclusive fashion range

Karl Lagerfeld
Image caption Lagerfeld has described himself as a "fashion opportunist"

Designer Karl Lagerfeld has launched an online fashion collection in conjunction with the London-based web retailer Net-a-Porter.

The Karl line is being marketed as an "accessible" range for women. Items range in price from £20 to £980.

Net-a-Porter has a one-month exclusivity deal before the collection is offered on Lagerfeld-branded sites.

Retail analysts say the move is part of a growing trend of designers using the web to refresh their image.

This is not the Chanel designer's first signature line.

In 2004 he created the "Karl Lagerfeld for H&M" collection which sold in the Swedish retailer's stores.

Private equity firm Apax Partners has also marketed a series of ranges using his name, launched between 2006 and 2010. The company remains involved in this latest venture.

However, this marks the German designer's first internet-only collection.

"Karl Lagerfeld is seen as an older member of the fashion scene, so this might help him rejuvenate his image," said Isabel Cavill, fashion analyst at Planet Retail.

Image caption Fashion critics have described the collection as "young and modern"

"We also saw Donatella Versace launch a collection which was sold on H&M's website last year, which caused the site to crash because demand was so strong.

"This is a great way to make their brands appear more accessible without risking damage to the perceived exclusivity of their other offline collections."

Sales surge

Online clothes sales have become big business, helping make the high-profile collapse of sportswear store in 2000 seem a distant memory.

A research study by the Interactive Media in Retail Group reported that between April 2001 and May 2011, the value of the UK's online clothing sector grew by 3,245%.

The group said that the growth rate had slowed over recent months - in part because of the mild winter - but that the more expensive brands were performing better than their counterparts.

"High-end fashion retailers are experiencing the strongest growth," said IMRG spokesman Andy Mulcahy.

"We think that's partly down to the fact that the more affluent consumers are being hit less hard by the economy, and in general that high-end retailers had been slower to adopt online sales, so there is an element of catch up."

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