Can online private fashion sales work in the UK? Leon Bailey asks how one goes about marketing such websites.

Fifteen years ago if someone said they had ordered their groceries at home, you’d imagine it would be a once-a-year Christmas hamper type thing.

Now it’s the norm to do your Ocado or Sainsbury’s shopping from the comfort of your home – or the discomfort of your office desk, where you minimise the screen as soon as someone approaches a one metre radius of your desk.

We’re now seeing niche crazes becoming viable business models, and last month Rupert Murdoch’s News International launched Brand Alley, a private designer fashion sales website, in the UK.

If you’ve never come across sites like Brand Alley or koodos, they normally work like this; you become a member of the exclusive club, receive email alerts detailing when a sale begins and what’s on offer, and then you log in, browse and ultimately buy.

It’s going to be quite a step change to market this in a culture of fast fashion where we’re used to buying clothes we want whenever we want them.

The internet is supposed to make it easier for us to shop when we want. So how does one market a site that only lets you buy certain items at specific periods and only if you’re on the guest list?

Perhaps what could confuse and frustrate some (having to be on the guest list and timed sales) is what makes other potential customers happy.

Maybe in the culture of fast fashion where anyone can do a certain look, some want that aura of exclusivity around their purchases and the satisfaction that they paid less than ‘Belinda in PR’ for a pair of Chloe heels.

The internet makes this way of shopping commercially possible – can you imagine a bricks and mortar shop only stocking a particular item and opening for a few hours every week to limited customers? It just wouldn’t work.

Leon Bailey is an online marketing, PR and partnerships professional specialising in fashion, beauty and celebrity media. He currently works for