Luxury e-commerce platform Farfetch is expanding intobeauty, with launches planned for April across three of its businesses — Farfetch.com, cult fashion boutique Browns and emerging brand incubator New Guards Group, which owns Heron Preston and Palm Angels among others.
Launching on 20 April, Farfetch.com will offer makeup, skincare, hair, fragrance and grooming products from more than 100 established and emerging brands, including Tom Ford, La Mer and Charlotte Tilbury. Browns, the London-based fashion boutique acquired by Farfetch in 2015, will offer a curated selection of buzzy independent brands such as Westman Atelier, By Terry, Alpha-H, Votary and Charlotte Mensah.
Luxury Italian fashion holding company New Guards Group, bought by Farfetch in 2019, will launch beauty through its Off-White brand, starting with four genderless fragrances as part of a collection called Paperwork. Nail polish and makeup will follow in May.
“All our companies have different perspectives but are united on the same goal, which is to take beauty beyond boundaries”, says Farfetch chief brand officer and Browns chair Holli Rogers. The acquisition of upscale LA beauty retailer Violet Grey in January this year was a clear demonstration of intent — as are several key hires including former Vogue beauty director Sarah Brown and former Byredo creative consultant Nellie Eden.
Farfetch’s unique retail model, technological capabilities and approach to community building will be a key point of difference, says Rogers. Farfetch will operate an e-concessions model, as it does for fashion, whereby brands featured on the platform pay Farfetch a commission on sales (usually about 30 per cent) but manage their own inventory and logistics. Meanwhile, Browns will operate a wholesale model business for its beauty operation.
Together with Violet Grey, Browns and Off-White, Farfetch aims to provide “the best luxury beauty products to serve customers across ages, races, cultures, and genders” in an “only on Farfetch” way, Rogers says. There’s a long journey ahead, she acknowledges. “We already have a huge amount of clout in the fashion space, but in beauty, we still have to earn it.”
Rogers declined to share future projections or targets, but the intention is clear. Beauty, she says, should be “an important part of Farfetch’s total business in a few years’ time”. Farfetch annual revenues rose 35 per cent to $2.3 billion in 2021. “We wouldn’t go into it if it didn’t seem to have value for us as an overall business.”
Founded in 2007, Farfetch carries fashion, shoes, accessories and homewares from a vast selection of global brands and boutiques, as well as a resale offer. Going after beauty will mean facing off against mainstays such as department stores Selfridges and Neiman Marcus; speciality retailers including Sephora, Ulta, Space NK and Cult Beauty; as well as drugstores and its usual rivals at fashion e-commerce sites including Net-a-Porter and Mytheresa.
Bain Altagamma forecasts the global beauty sector will be worth $69 billion by 2025, making it the second largest category within the global personal luxury market, after leather goods but ahead of apparel.
To do it, beauty at both Farfetch and Browns is being tightly integrated into the retailers’ core womenswear and menswear offer rather than a separate entity, leveraging some of Farfetch technology, such as virtual try-on for lipsticks using augmented reality.
Luxury beauty brands are excited to sell on Farfetch. “Farfetch [has] a sizable audience of the most discerning Gen Z and millennial shoppers,” says Alessio Rossi, executive vice president of Shiseido and Clé de Peau Beauté US and head of digital transformation for the Americas at Shiseido. “We see an opportunity to create an exciting touchpoint for both existing and new consumers who appreciate design, product performance and are open to testing new ways to experience beauty.”
Behind the scenes at Farfetch is a newly formed team including head of beauty Sophie Wayman, who joined the business in January 2021 after senior beauty merchandising roles at Sephora and Net-a-Porter, and Sophia Panych, named as head of beauty content in February after nine years at Condé Nast, most recently as deputy digital beauty director at Allure. Both will focus on reaching millennials and Gen Z shoppers, who already make up “a huge percentage” of Farfetch’s customer base, according to Rogers. A dedicated makeup buying team and in-store beauty specialists have also been recruited at Browns.
Violet Grey founder Cassandra Grey plays a pivotal role in Farfetch’s global beauty collective, a committee of industry experts and creative visionaries assembled to educate and inspire through sharing tips, advice and personal beauty stories on Farfetch and their own social media platforms.
At launch, they number 16 in total, including makeup artists Erin Parsons and Isamaya Ffrench; hair stylist Jawara Wauchope; dermatologist Michelle Henry; cosmetic chemist Michelle Wong; and drag queen and performer Violet Chachki. Browns has also developed its own beauty community of experts and enthusiasts. “These are great people we identify with. We want to be able to utilise their expertise and they also talk to a different consumer,” says Browns buying director Ida Petersson.
More from OPPORTUNITIES
Rocco Forte Hotels appoints Richard Cooke as Cluster Managing Director, United Kingdom
Rocco Forte Hotels announces the appointment of Richard Cooke as Cluster Managing Director, United Kingdom. Formerly General Manager of The …
Jennifer Lopez launches an exclusive line of footwear with Revolve
JLO Jennifer Lopez, the brand created by singer and actress Jennifer Lopez, is teaming up with premium lifestyle brand Revolve …
Accor to roll out global paid subscription cards
Accor is the first major hotel group to roll out global paid subscription cards, giving guests access to discounts and …