Are people still talking about Web 2.0? Or are we moving through the integers already? Whatever - online shopping has come a long way, and where once brands used a website as an additional sales platform, the equation has been turned on its head.
That seems to be the case, at any rate, with Ame (www.shopame.com) Asia's "first high-end shoe club". The brand launched online on Thursday, with a simultaneous store opening at 9 Sharp Street East in Causeway Bay. The latter, though, is being described as a "showroom" more than anything else.
The creative director and public face of Ame, Linda Chung Ka-yan, threw her weight behind the venture after finding her own time for shopping dwindling. Ever since being crowned Miss Chinese International in 2004, the Canadian singer-actress says the demands of her schedule have made shopping online more convenient.
"I don't have time to head down to a store and actually physically look at stuff," she says.
Ame's products are made at its dedicated production bases in Italy and Chung, who has herself designed a pair of lace-up open-toe shoes featuring a butterfly bow, says comfort is the watchword.
"When I go to shows I might get some shoes that are really chunky or high heeled, which are usually uncomfortable. But Ame's shoes are pretty, comfortable and affordable."
The "club" aspect is apparent in the service provided online: "We have celebrity stylists [including Chung, models Mandy Lieu, Jocelyn Luko and Rosemary Vandenbroucke, and fashion blogger Tina Leung] to discuss and help members choose shoes that are suitable for them."
Shoppers can answer questions about their style preferences on the website and will be sent personalised recommendations within 24 hours. All shoes cost HK$1,290 a pair but if you sign up to become a member of the VIP Shoe Club programme, you pay just HK$550 for each purchase. Shoe-rly some mistake, we thought; but no.