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Get To Know Farfetch, a Boutique Shopper's Online Paradise

Farfetch founder Jose Neves, courtesy of Farfetch
Farfetch founder Jose Neves, courtesy of Farfetch

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The first time we used Farfetch, it was to track down a Zero + Maria Cornejo jumpsuit we'd seen on Maggie Gyllanhaal and that had since sold out absolutely everywhere. The site lets you shop the inventory of 250 specialty boutiques around the world, so we gave it a go. A search revealed that there was one (only one!) left at a boutique in Minneapolis, and it just happended to be both in our size and on sale. We've been fans of the site ever since.

That was about at year ago, and since then the site has been growing like a weed (a very chic weed). They've expanded into 19 countries, signed-up a bunch of top-tier boutiques (Miami's The Webster and New York's Five Story, included) received a cool $20 million investment from Condé Nast, and, just this week, Moda Operandi vet Roopal Patel joined the team's US advisory board. Today, we chat with founder José Neves about how he revolutionized boutique shopping.

Who's the typical farfetch customer?
The farfetch customer is fashion hungry. They're well travelled and early adopters who like to follow trends.

How do you choose the boutiques that are included under the farfetch umbrella?
Each one of the boutiques in our community has been carefully selected for its unique approach, forward-thinking attitude, and diversity. I have a personal interest and take an active role in selecting new boutiques, especially internationally. In addition to boutiques proactively applying to join our network, we have a fantastic business development team who are responsible for finding the best boutiques in each territory we work within. Keeping in mind our mantra of quality over quantity, they work tirelessly to ensure we are continually working with the best boutiques around the world.

The product imagery on the site is incredibly consistent across all boutiques. Does the farfetch team shoot every product or do you rely on the individual boutiques to provide imagery?
We work hard to achieve that consistency and have an extensive farfetch team who shoot nearly every single item sold on site. The summer months are peak season for us and during this time the team can shoot over 1,000 items a day! We produce a high standard of photography and some of our boutique partners choose to use this imagery on their websites too.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced in e-commerce?
In the past, there has been a divide between e-commerce and the bricks and mortar business. However, we are an e-commerce brand that successfully bridges the gap between the two and celebrates the independent retailer. Logistically, supporting boutiques in multiple international locations and connecting them with the customer is not only our biggest challenge but also our best reward.

What's the best thing about shopping the site?
I think that the fact you can experience the story of an individual boutique and visualise their space through each dedicated boutique page is incredible. We work really hard to replicate the high level of customer service you would experience if you were to visit one of our boutiques; from the carefully considered and edited collections to the arrival of the product itself in the boutique's own bespoke packaging.

What does farfetch offer that no other site has right now?
Farfetch has connected a global audience of shoppers with boutiques they may never have come across day to day. You can be in Paris one minute and Miami the next, but our customer can purchase in one easy check out that includes the cost of tax, duties, and delivery. It is revolutionary.

Aesthetic: Boutique devotee with a global mindset.

Strong Points: Consistently gorgeous photography and easy site navigation (often better than what you'll find on a small boutique's web shop), plus the opportunity to shop the best boutiques around the world from your couch. Bonus points for having just one checkout, no matter how many boutiques you shop.

Weak Points: The inventory system isn't 100% perfect. We once placed an order only to get an email from the boutique a few hours later letting us know that the item was actually out of stock and apologizing for the glitch.

Standout brands: Independent boutiques from around the world, including New York's Fivestory, London's Mooi, and Copenhagen's Emma Lu.

Price Range: Prices are also boutique specific. There's a huge range, from moderate $100 to super pricy (we're talking $50,000).

Shipping: Dependent on the boutique location and box size. Shipping to the US ranges from $7 to $52.

Returns: Free global returns. You have up to 5 days after you receive your order to arrange a return, which includes a free return collection service.

Bonus: They're having a site-wide sale right now for up to 40% off on some of the pricier duds.

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