Farfetch launches in Japan

Jan 15

London-based Farfetch, a fast growing fashion e-commerce business, has just opened in Japan. It hopes to increase the number of Japanese shoppers at its more than 300 boutiques around the world, and encourage more Japanese boutiques to sell globally.

UK-based online fashion store Farfetch has set up a local subsidiary in Japan. Farfetch was established in 2008 by Portuguese entrepreneur José Neves in London as a way for select shops around the world to promote their wares to a wider audience, and for fashion lovers to access designers and brands from anywhere. Boutiques sign up to the service and list available product, which can be bought through Farfetch with delivery directly from the boutique. To avoid confusion, prices include import taxes in the customer’s country, and a free return service is also available.

In addition, Farfetch has just launched a new delivery scheme whereby a shopper can buy from a boutique in say, Montreal, but pick up the order from her local store in Berlin. This not only reduces worries over delivery from far away, but for the local boutique means garnering visits from new customers who likely fit its profile.

Already 1,000 brands are available with 300 member boutiques signed up, spread across cities as diverse as Riyadh and Bucharest. In 2013 sales hit ¥20 billion and Farfetch has had no problems raising additional rounds of funding. As well as bringing new online customers from all over the world to a boutique, Farfetch makes it easy for fashion shoppers to find boutiques in their home town and for visiting tourists to do the same. Farfetch has been popular with Japanese shoppers – it has a Japanese language version already – but until now no Japanese boutiques were members.

As well as raising US$66 million recently, Farfetch’s Japanese arm has been established with the help of Infinitye Ventures and will work to encourage Japanese boutiques to sign up as well as market the service to Japanese shoppers. In October Restir signed and Farfetch hopes to have 15 Japanese boutiques signed up in 2015.

Given the demand for ever more unique brands and items from affluent Japanese looking to discover a designer or brand their friends have not heard of, the service could well find a strong following in Japan. If its Japanese arm can match the average sales per customer per season of ¥70,000 reached in other markets, it will also be one of the most profitable fashion e-commerce businesses in Japan.

At the same time, there is serious potential for Farfetch to help Japanese designers reach a large audience. Many limit their sales to Japanese boutiques due to concerns with handling overseas orders and payments but FarFetch’s service will make this process relatively seamless.