I once shopped at Zappos, back in the day when Oscar de la Renta mistakenly descended from the fashion Mount Olympus and deigned to sell to mere mortals. How this paragon of taste and virtue came to be harking floral polyster trapeze dresses at Macy's, I'll never know. But the one great thing his one-off line had going for it was the shoes. I LOVED the O by Oscar de la Renta shoes. I still have several pairs in snakeskin and suede. And the best place to find them was at Zappos.
But I haven't shopped there since. Zappos to me feels like the online equivalent of one of those stores you see in backwater malls - window displays dating back a decade, matted carpet, and everything in a neutral shade of dust. In an age of Flash sites and armchair graphic designers, a website that isn't gorgeous has no excuse. However, I'm changing my mind. The new Couture Zappos site is why. Here's the skinny:
1) Their selection is great. Whereas Saks Fifth Avenue only has 16 Marc by Marc Jacobs shoe selections, Zappos has 146 styles. Zappos is also less seasonally adverse. Meaning? If you missed that darling pair of flats that zipped out of the stores 2 months ago, Zappos may still have them.
The latest Marc by March Jacobs: Lace-up Ankle Boots.
2) Shipping, shipping, shipping. Costs for most stores follow no obvious rhyme or reason - I have placed an order for $20 and been charged $10 in shipping. Or I've ordered $300 worth of merchandise and been charged $5 (and we're talking clothes here people - I'm not buying bricks or anvils). Selecting a shipping cost seems part math and part mystic - I imagine executives tossing bones across a desk while haunting chants play from their ipods. The great thing about Zappos is that shipping is ALWAYS FREE. And guess what? Returns are ALWAYS FREE. Alternatively, you can order the same shoe from Saks, and the cost will be $300, plus $17 in shipping (for one box of shoes!). Hmmmm...
The new Kate Spade Glamor pumps. Available at Saks, Neimans, and Zappos.
3) Special needs. If you have extra wide feet, need to compare every gold heel in the known universe, or need anything out of the ordinary, Zappos is for you.
Size 12 pumps by Stuart Weitzman.
Visit Couture Zappos for more great looks.
All images: Zappos.