This week online luxe fashion platform, Farfetch, announced it has acquired iconic London Store, Browns. The amount paid is yet to be disclosed.
Farfetch is an online luxury platform that currently has a community of 300 fashion boutiques selling through it. Farfetch unites these disparate boutiques in one site – as a kind of fashion commerce aggregator. It’s currently valued at $1 billion helmed by Sandrine Devaux (ex. multichannel director of Harvey Nichols). As a side note, Browns has an online boutique on the site.
Browns plan to use Farfetch as a lab; and Farfetch plans to use Browns as a ‘petri-dish’. A seemingly mutually beneficial experimental relationship based on one core need – omnichannel experience. To quote Farfetch founder and CEO, Jose Neve
“If you deeply understand the consumer, you know that’s the way you shop for fashion. No one shops purely online or purely offline…Physical experiences won’t go away, but the physical store as we know it won’t exist in five years’ time. Without a strong digital platform they won’t be able to survive. These two worlds that were once divided are now united.”
Ok, so the whole banter about omnichannel aside – this move feels like a shift in the acquisition model we’ve been seeing. We’ve been closely watching Nordstrom and their investment strategy (see here for more detail) in the past few years. On the back of this we’ve seen other department stores moving to act like incubators or start-up investors (ie. Neiman Marcus investment in Farfetch rival Mytheresa.com). But this move is a switch the other way – from online sites being acquired to being the acquirer.