Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo, Theory, and Donna Karan are among the many top designers who plan to launch e-commerce sites, the New York Times reports. The recession has been named as the reason for such a shift, as department stores slashed designer prices and design houses worried about losing exclusivity. By selling items online, luxury brands are able to take out the middleman, avoid frequent department store sales, and thus maintain their “luxury” title:

Come September, marcjacobs.com is going retail, 10 years after most brands opened Web showrooms. “I was so annoyed last year that I wished no one had our merchandise,” said Robert Duffy, the president and vice chairman of Marc Jacobs. “All the department stores were panicked, and they were marking things down.” Other luxury brands — Jimmy Choo, Hugo Boss, Vince, Lancôme, St. John, Theory, Kiehl’s, Lilly Pulitzer, Donna Karan and La Perla — have started or soon will start selling their products through their Web sites. If it infuriates department stores or brings in customers who might have earned a glare from haughty clerks, who cares, as long as people are buying at full price? “These brands are finally taking the plunge to establish an online retail presence,” said Jeffrey Max, chief executive of Venda, which handles technology for e-commerce sites. “The recession forced these manufacturers to realize they needed to look for revenue wherever they could.” – from NYTimes