Since 1963, Pantone has created more than 10,000 standard color chips, which designers and manufacturers use to ensure the same products are consistently the same color, no matter where and how they’re made. Anyone can make a new color—by mixing pigments in different amounts, or by tweaking the finish, gloss, or texture of the material they’re printed on. But only after it is standardized and given a name does a color take on a true identity, Eiseman says. ... For the past 15 years, she has gathered the world’s color experts in secret meetings held in an undisclosed capital city to choose Pantone’s “Color of the Year”—a single hue meant to represent the coming zeitgeist. She also puts together a range of seasonal palettes, forecasting the ever-changing colors of our clothes, our wall paints, or our office furniture.
The thing people always talk about first, when they are talking about Net-a-Porter, is the packaging. For a company known for being on the leading edge of online fashion, it is surprisingly anachronistic: The black, beribboned bags that arrive, brimming with tissue paper and the promise of a life-changing ensemble, could just as easily have been delivered by uniformed footman to Eloise’s Plaza as summoned via the internet into the one inhabited by Russian oligarchs. “It’s like getting a present,” the company’s president, Natalie Massenet, likes to say, which sounds whimsical but isn’t. Elaborate packaging is integral to the Net-a-Porter brand. It was central to Massenet’s vision when she started the company in her apartment in 1999, on the premise that good old-fashioned luxury and the utilitarian promise of the internet need not be mutually exclusive, and has remained so even as the company has expanded to become one of the leading players of global e-commerce. ... Back in March, after its parent company, the Swiss luxury retailer Richemont, announced it had struck a deal to merge the site with its rival at a $1.5 billion valuation and in exchange for half of the combined company, Net-a-Porter did its best to make it seem like cause for celebration. ... The Champagne was still fizzing from the last dot-com boom when Massenet launched Net-a-Porter. ... At the time, luxury brands had little interest in selling their wares online. The prevailing sentiment was that designer clothes did not belong in a marketplace known for trafficking primarily in electronics and p~rn. ... It’s a world not unlike a high-end hotel chain, which is the point: “I wanted to make sure that the whole company was unified, like you were opening one door from one office space and then entering another one,” ... The company bends over backward to service Them, providing same-day delivery in Hong Kong, New York, and London, and seasonally in the Hamptons. There are special sales for EIPs (Extremely Important People). Occasional collections are tailored to their needs ... As the CEO of one company who sells merchandise on the site put it to me: “Everyone loves Net-a-Porter. They are great at everything. Except making money.”
The L.L. Bean Maine Hunting Boot has gone on expeditions to both Poles, and been commissioned by the U.S. military to go to war as well. They've popped up on the feet of Babe Ruth and Derek Jeter, Jake Gyllenhaal, Chloë Sevigny, and recently, as shown on Twitter, the feet of a woman dancing on stage during a Bruce Springsteen concert. They seem to wander college quads and main streets with equal ubiquity. And when the boots return to where they were made in Brunswick, Maine, to be repaired, each is tagged with its home port for resending ... last year alone: Roughly half a million Bean Hunting Boots were manufactured and sold, marking a 300 percent increase from a decade ago. Even the guys over in corporate can't explain it. They see it less as a fluke than as a question of longevity: If you stick around long enough, you become the trend again. ... All you really need to know is that the waiting list on back orders—from the sorority sisters of the SEC to old-school hunters—recently ran as high as a hundred thousand. Inside the company, where the boot is simply known as the Boot, they can't crank out product fast enough. ... The Boot was famously birthed in 1912 by one L.L. Bean, an orphan who came to love the Maine outdoors, and who swore, after a particularly miserable hunting trip involving cold, wet feet, that he'd never repeat the experience.