Farfetch hard luxury

LONDON — Farfetch is making its first foray into hard luxury in an ambitious way.

The fashion and luxury online marketplace is moving into the category with the launch of dedicated fine jewelry and watch hubs and a series of partnerships with heritage brands including De Beers, Chopard, Tag Heuer and Tiffany & Co.

The debut comes at a time when the competition among e-commerce players is increasing, with hard luxury presenting an attractive, new avenue for growth.

Earlier this year, Net-a-porter introduced a similar concept in the form of a hard luxury suite, a dedicated place on the web site where the jewelry and watches offering is presented against the background of curated content.

As Compagnie Financière Richemont, parent of brands including Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, prepares to buy the entirety of Yoox Net-a-porter Group, Net’s focus on becoming a hard luxury destination has been gaining traction.

Moda Operandi, known for its upscale client base, has also been growing its hard luxury offering and engaging with a fine jewelry shopper both at its by-appointment showrooms and online, where it imposes a no-returns policy.

Farfetch believes that it has something new to bring to the table, by showcasing the product through more playful, street style imagery and by exposing traditional jewelry labels to its sought-after Millennial audience.

“We are very different from other retailers. We’re not just approaching the categories differently, but we also have a different customer. We’re very Millennial-focused, it’s a much younger demographic compared to others. So we are exposing these categories and the brands that are taking part in the launch, to a new audience,” said Giorgio Belloli, Farfetch’s chief commercial and sustainability officer, explaining that there is a growing appetite for hard luxury among younger luxury shoppers. “It was a market response; we’ve been listening to our customer and giving them something they’ve been asking for, for a while.”

The retailer has invested in editorial for the launch, in order to produce new concepts and photography that will present the product from a refreshed perspective.

“The way we’re shooting the catalog, it’s definitely different from anything you’ve seen before. Just the idea of being able to sell De Beers diamonds through street style photography is something that has never been done in the past,” added Belloli.

De Beers, Pomellato, Tiffany & Co., Chopard and David Yurman are among the jewelers that have partnered with Farfetch for the launch. With regard to watches, the retailer said it prioritized quality over big names, debuting with the likes of Bell & Ross, Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux.

According to Belloli, the brands wanted to partner with Farfetch because it gave them an opportunity to tap a younger audience they “don’t necessarily speak to” and also to move product that’s sitting in their stores worldwide.

“There’s the ability to take advantage of our unique business model. We don’t require inventory sitting in a warehouse, which is perfect for the hard luxury category. These brands have unique, one-of-a-kind pieces sitting in a store that can suddenly become available to a customer on the other side of the world. There’s an element of efficiency, which is really valuable to them,” added Belloli.

Being a marketplace, Farfetch also allows its brands to showcase a wider selection of their offerings, unlike more traditional e-commerce players that offer their own edit of a collection and buy and hold stock.

The hub will debut with 300 styles across the different brands – a significant selection given that only 10 brands will be featured as part of the launch. Farfetch also didn’t impose any price limits on the products that each label chooses to feature on its site, as it sees its customer becoming less price resistant when it comes to online shopping.

“We’ve been selling $20,000 dresses around the world, and the customers that we have are now comfortable spending a large amount of money on specific products,” added Belloli.

The likes of Chopard and Ulysse Nardin will also create exclusive pieces for Farfetch in a bid to further engage with customers looking for one-off pieces for special events.