You launched Farfetch two weeks afer Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008. What
was it like to debut a company that championed luxury fashion at such a moment?
Starting a company is already scary. Starting a company in the middle of a fnancial storm
was terrifying. There was this fear of Armageddon in the [fashion] industry. And here we
were trying to start a very ambitious project: to create a platform for boutiques and brands.
But there was also collateral beauty in the fnancial crisis. I’d been a shoe designer since
the age of 22, and I knew the industry moved very slowly. I had wondered how open people
were going to be to the internet—to a new concept and to [Farfetch’s online] marketplace
model. [During the crisis] people were very open to new [sales]
channels, new opportunities. There was less to lose.
There are growing concerns today that we may be heading into
another financial crisis. Do you have any lessons from 2008
for navigating that? The luxury industry is not only very resilient,
but the shift from offine to online is pretty much still [happening]
today. Only 9% of sales are happening online. So even in the event
of a crisis, we think Farfetch is very well prepared.
Since acquiring the legendary London boutique Browns in
2015, you’ve been experimenting with physical retail there
IN SEPTEMBER, A DECADE AFTER HE BEGAN KNITTING TOGETHER
an online marketplace for independent boutiques across the globe,
Farfetch founder and CEO José Neves took the company public. It’s
now worth more than $7 billion and encompasses the original
platform (which sells items from more than 980 stores and brands),
white-label e-commerce services for designers such as Thom Browne
and Derek Lam, and even physical retail.
ON THE HEELS OF HIS
COMPANY’S RECENT IPO,
FARFETCH CEO JOSÉ NEVES
TALKS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF
FASHION, THE INDUSTRY’S
PROBLEM WITH WASTE, AND
THE UNEXPECTED BENEFITS
OF A GLOBAL RECESSION.
BY AMY FARLEY
YEARS AT COMPANY
FIRST JOB Software