Online shopping has experienced a worldwide boom in popularity in the past few years, due in part to the proliferation of high-quality, reliable online stores and in part to increased consumer confidence in the online experience. Within the realm of fashion, this boom has led to an extravagant array of websites that now allow a style-conscious Melbourne woman or man to cherry pick the very latest, up-to-the-minute pieces from international collections, be it from New York, Paris, London or Milan.

With detailed information on sizing, colour and the ability to zoom in on a product, as well as some sites recommending matching or similar items, online is becoming an ever more popular, and much more relaxed way to shop; 24-hour opening times also help. Not only can you now get the latest accessory, shoes or clothing before they even appear in fashion glossies, you can also watch the shows online and select the clothes before the model has even taken them off! This was recently the case at the latest Burberry collection in London.

With this in mind, and with the Christmas season fast approaching, Broadsheet has scoured the nation for some of the most accessible websites and included a few tips. Whilst there are innumerable sites dedicated to the online shopper, these three Aussie sites should get you started.

Claire Inc.
Set up by vintage designer and former eBay entrepreneur Belinda Humphries in 2009, this website is a rare find for Australian shoppers looking for vintage and hard-to-find pieces by such covetable designer labels like Jean Paul Gaultier, Kenzo, Balenciaga and Thierry Mugler. It also stocks Chanel and Moschino to name but a few more, at prices well below original retail value. Many of the pieces are one offs and some brands are limited to a few items.

The plus side is that shopping at Claire Inc. lets you browse through an already well-picked selection which Humphries has worked hard to source and stock. You can also limit your search according to price and type of clothing you are looking for. A small blog keeps customers up to date about what new stock to look forward to and there is also a mailing list to make sure you don’t miss out on any sales or favourite labels. It’s vintage, retro, modern and most of all offers a chance to find some unique pieces to stand out this summer.

Tomorrow’s Laundry
This site is, for a change, just for gents. Stocking a wide selection of boutique Australian menswear labels – such as Dr. Denim, Claude Maus and new kid on the block, From Britten – the site also helps support young and emerging designers by giving them a much-needed online presence. For the at times reserved male shopper, the site is reassuringly sparse and easy to navigate with clear descriptions and competitive pricing.

Size charts for the different labels take the stress out of choosing the right fit and many items have a short description or aide to help you decide if they will suit you. The products on offer are ideally suited to the street savvy shopper after basics and some stand-out pieces – such as sharply cut trench coats from Beat Poet and short-shorts for summer from Handsom – or just style-conscious city or creative types. The site also offers free domestic shipping.

The New Guard
This is a great Australian website that stocks some of the most avant-garde and modern international labels such as Isabel Marant, ACNE and Alexander Wang. What’s more, it stocks some of the oft talked about style collaborations between such trend setters as Chloë Sevigny for Opening Ceremony and model-cum-designer Erin Wasson’s label, Erin Wasson X RVCA.

Scrolling down the list of in-stock designers, shoppers can choose to either shop for individual collections or shop by style or specific clothing pieces. Each label stocked comes with a short introduction and profile and some link to blogs, giving customers the chance to see what the designers are up to. Another useful feature is that many pieces come with suggestions for items that complement the selected piece. For example, a little black dress will also show some not-so-little black heels too.

Some labels are only available in-store but in such cases a number is provided to speak directly to an assistant who can locate and order the item for you. Postage is via Australian Post Platinum and it’s a flat fee of $15 for Australian residents but it’s waived for any purchase over $500.

Honorable Mentions:

An Australian forerunner, this site has next-day delivery for Australian capitals and is full of Australian labels such as LIFEwithBIRD and shoe designer Tristan Blair.
Stocking a broad variety of Australian and international labels such from Zimmermann and Camilla and Marc to Nicola Finetti and J Brand, this site offers a pared-down selection from each collection and a variety of essentials such as shoes and leather accessories.

Aimed at the younger woman’s market, this site stocks a good mix of high-end and high-street labels such as Josh Goot, Sass and Bide, Ksubi and Bassike.

Final Tip: For the wary online shopper, a safe bet for clothes is to only order those designers that you already have so you can be sure of your size, or borrow a friend’s.