In Sectors

How fashion curator FarFetch forged a path between brands and customers

You don’t need to hop on a plane to shop at your favourite stores in London, Lisbon or Los Angeles, because e-commerce marketplace FarFetch has brought those stores to your computer or phone. Fancy a Stella McCartney dress from Browns in London? Or a pair of Mykita sunglasses from Monocle in Rome? FarFetch will make the connection for you. It is the portal that tries to show you the best of what boutiques and brands offer around the world.

Founded by London-based Portuguese entrepreneur José Neves, FarFetch has a different business model to that of other e-tailers such as Net-a-Porter and Shopbop. FarFetch doesn’t hold any stock. It provides customers with the means to connect and peruse the collections held by their favourite boutiques around the world, and then place orders. FarFetch handles the transaction, offering Alipay in China, and then individual stores will handle the delivery.

The formula has proven to be a success. It is now a US$500 million business and China has swiftly grown to 12 per cent of that (US$60 million), which Neves admits is a drop in the ocean given the number of luxury customers in the country. But with new offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong and what he claims as the first Chinese mobile app, Neves believes business will be further boosted.

“The DNA between us and Net-a-Porter is completely different: Net is editorially driven and advises customers on how to dress; our stance is about curating the curators and bringing together on one platform another viewpoint of fashion,” explains Neves. “We provide a platform for the best boutiques and brands to speak to the luxury customer.”

FarFetch has a portfolio of 500 boutiques and 100 brands internationally, and 1,500 designers are represented on the site, which gives the shopper the feeling, he explains, of travelling the world. Some of those designers are quite small and offer something unique.

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